Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 20th, 2021

From fiery bract to fiery body

with 50 comments

Speaking of the most primary of all colors, our September 11th visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center produced pictures not only of a bright red fire-on-the-mountain bract but also of what I take to be a male neon skimmer dragonfly, Libellula crocipennis. This one was up high and pretty far away, so I used a telephoto zoom lens at its maximum focal length of 400mm, and even then I had to crop the image down to about a fifth of its area.


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Back on August 12th I reported that I’ve occasionally been turning to unknown people on the street and asking them out of the blue what they think about the current state of our country. My latest encounter took place yesterday, after a woman who noticed Eve taking a picture of me in front of an octopus sculpture asked if we’d like her to photograph the two of us together. I took her up on her offer, and in the process we chatted briefly. When she was about to rejoin the other woman she’d been walking with, I asked her my question. She was maybe the sixth person I’d approached that way, and like all the others, she said she thinks things in America are terrible. I asked if she could give me an example of what troubles her.

First she gave me a local answer. It involved TXDoT, the Texas Department of Transportation, which has started implementing its huge project to rebuild Interstate 35 through central Austin, one of the most congested stretches of Interstate highway in the United States. The woman felt TXDoT hadn’t conferred enough with people in neighborhoods bordering that part of Interstate 35, who might be adversely affected. (There’s a history of Interstate 35 separating white and black neighborhoods when it was built through central Austin in the 1960s.)

Then the woman said she’s happy that Biden got elected president. (You’d more often than not expect that in as liberal a place as Austin.) Turning to the pandemic, she said she believes in the COVID-19 vaccines and has been vaccinated herself but is troubled by the vaccine mandates and passports currently being pushed (so notably, of course, by President Biden). Her concern was about the federal government getting too involved with and making decisions based on people’s private medical records.

Of the half-dozen strangers I’ve asked my out-of-the-blue question to, so far every one has given answers that made me think I was dealing with a reasonable person. Maybe there’s hope for the country after all.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 20, 2021 at 4:44 AM

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