Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Climbing hempvine on cattails

with 30 comments

At the Riata Trace Pond on September 15th I found that several climbing hempvines (Mikania scandens) had indeed twined their way up on the dry leaves of some cattails (Typha domingensis). Below you get a closer look at a flower globe produced by one of the vines. It’s not a coincidence that those flowers somewhat resemble the ones you recently saw on a boneset plant in my yard: both species belong to the Eupatoriae tribe within the very large sunflower family.

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Lie of the Day

Government officials lie so routinely and so blatantly that I can’t claim I need to do diligent research to uncover their lies, any more than I’d deserve credit for noticing that the sky is blue and the sun yellow. Even so, I figured I’d post this lie of the day because it’s a follow-up to my September 18th commentary about the chaos, degradation, and lawlessness at the Texas border in Del Rio.

While watching television news on Tuesday I saw a video clip of Department of Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas declaiming categorically: “If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned, your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life.” As he said that, the government was busy processing and releasing into the United States thousands of Haitians who had walked across the Rio Grande River illegally a few days earlier. The current administration is letting those illegal immigrants go into the interior of our country by bus and airplane. They’re not being systematically tested for COVID-10 or being required to get vaccinated.

The next day I saw an interview with Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, who said that in the past eight months the number of people who’d illegally come into the country yet were allowed to stay here anyhow was well over half a million.

Have you ever noticed that the sky is blue and the sun is yellow?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 23, 2021 at 4:32 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Very interested


    September 23, 2021 at 5:07 AM

  2. News flash. This has been happening during all administrations. Here’s what your brethren at the Cato Institute said about the previous administration. I don’t know why I am commenting because you have shown to be quite partisan, attacking only liberals, using “woke” and “leftists” as insults and finding commentary to support your position only. The current administration does have a different philosophy about dealing with immigrants but I notice in your diatribes no mention of their ongoing attempts to return many Haitians to their homeland nor the brutality some of the border patrol is showing towards those people. What you also don’t mention is that processing these thousands of immigrant hopefuls requires lots of government employees to review them and the previous administration drastically cut the manpower to do that as they did throughout government. The whole immigration situation is complex and overwhelming and your solution is pretty simplistic…just follow the rules. That was made more difficult by the former President and is still not up to speed. Truth is a funny thing. No matter where you look for it the facts vary and the truth does with it.

    Steve Gingold

    September 23, 2021 at 5:13 AM

    • News flash: Biden is president. Trump isn’t. I found plenty to criticize in Trump, but he’s not the president now. Biden is. (Well, at least nominally.)

      I began using the word leftist a few years ago because the word liberal has become ambiguous. What we might call “classical liberals” believe in free speech, equality of opportunity, and due process. Leftists are willing or even eager to censor opponents. Leftists believe in “equity,” which is forced sameness of group outcomes, rather than equality of opportunity for people treated as individuals. Leftists are willing to deny due process to people they disagree with.

      I pointed out in an earlier post that the people who control the main institutions in the United States have increasingly moved toward the left: the news media, the universities (and now secondary and even primary schools), the permanent governmental bureaucracy, social media, the press, entertainment, large corporations. Because of that huge imbalance of power, in my commentaries I’m offering viewpoints that contradict that leftist dominance. Many outlets promote leftist viewpoints. Just turn on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, NPR. I’m one voice speaking against leftist viewpoints.

      I’ve sometimes spent hours on a single commentary, doing my best to get the facts straight. If anyone offers evidence that I got a fact wrong, I correct my mistake.

      To the issue in today’s commentary: I’d considered mentioning that the American government has deported some Haitians. I decided to wait and see if any commenter brought that up. You just did. The fact remains that most of the people who illegally crossed the border at Del Rio have been allowed to go further into the country anyhow. I heard on television that immigration authorities have announced that so-called family units (why not just say families?) among the illegal entrants at Del Rio will not be deported. The point is that Mayorkas’s categorical statement that people who come here illegally will be turned back isn’t true.

      In my commentary on June 3rd I laid out my many personal connections with immigrants to the United States and my generally sympathetic approach to immigration. You could sum it up by saying I believe there has to be a generous policy of legal immigration and no tolerance for flouting the law:

      It doesn’t take long for chaos to ensue

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2021 at 7:02 AM

    • That’s quite an elegant photo of the hempvine. I don’t think I would have recognized the cattail leaf; it looks for all the world like a wooden pole meant to serve as a base for a twining plant. I’ve found climbing hempvine at the San Bernard refuge, although I’m sure it’s common around here, too: especially around the bayous and ponds.

      Speaking of lies, I’m tiring of the “look at those racists using whips on the Haitians just like slave owners of old” meme. I wonder how many politicians attempting to make hay with that one have been close enough to a horse to feed it hay, let alone tried to ride one. The skill that’s required to keep horse, rider, and other people safe during crowd control operations is substantial; an out-of-control or spooked horse can be dangerous, whether it’s working a Thanksgiving Day parade or a crowd at a border.


      September 23, 2021 at 7:30 AM

      • Yep, Steve, Biden is president now but you write as if this is all of his making and my point was that it is not. Whether he is dealing with it well is something history will judge.

        Fair enough about the difficulty on horseback but in my opinion all the more reason not to be swinging a weapon. I never even thought about a tie in to slavery, just some of what seems to me an extreme method of controlling people who it doesn’t appear were rioting but resisting being moved. Obviously being a few thousand miles away gives me a different perspective from people much closer to the situation.

        Steve Gingold

        September 23, 2021 at 7:42 AM

        • The facts don’t seem to support your assertion that Trump’s border policies are a cause of the border problems we’re seeing now in the Biden administration. Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy, which Biden quickly canceled, coincided with relatively low rates of illegal border crossings (I’ll grant that no policy can completely stop people from trying to get in illegally). Here are the official numbers from Customs and Border Patrol:


          The gray line on the graph shows relatively low numbers for 2018.

          The orange line shows that beginning in January 2019 numbers started climbing and got pretty high by May 2019. That coincided with the illegal migrant caravans coming up through Mexico that we saw so often on television in that period. But then the numbers came back down pretty fast, and by September 2019 the level was almost back to where it had been in 2018.

          By April 2020 the number of encounters with illegal border crossers hit a low for the four years on the chart, then slowly began going back up. From October 2020 through January 2021, the numbers plateaued at around 70–78 thousand per month. But in February and March 2021, the first months of the Biden administration, the blue line on the chart rises precipitously. From then till now the numbers have remained very high. Every month from March 2021 till now has been a lot higher than even the worst month under Trump (which had been May 2019).

          Also remember Biden’s executive order in the first hours of his presidency (https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2021-01-21/biden-administration-to-pause-many-deportations-for-100-days):

          “Acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske issued a memo Wednesday hours after Biden’s inauguration ordering a stop in deportations for immigrants in the country illegally who have been given final orders of removal [italics mine]. Those were people who’d already gone through the legal system and had been ordered deported. Biden decided to ignore those court orders. I call that lawlessness.

          As confirmation of the magnets that Biden’s policies and actions were for illegal immigration, consider that when reporters have asked illegal immigrants since February of this year why they’ve come here now, some of them have said they believed Biden’s policies would let them get in. You may have seen photographs of would-be immigrants wearing T-shirts to that effect:


          As always, if you believe that any of the facts I’ve cited are incorrect, I’m willing to see your evidence.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 23, 2021 at 3:57 PM

          • I just don’t have the time as I prepare to leave to follow the links. But as always you do your research and I respect that. I imagine there are other graphs that show something different but I don’t know that and can’t pursue it right now. The one thing I can say is that we can always find someone to exhibit certain ideas and actions. Ed Meese, I think it was, found a black man in the D.C. area who had a full time job and was well dressed taking advantage a of a soup kitchen and used that as an example of why people really did not need them. I am sure many people feel Biden would be different from Trump and that is why they come. But that is also why Biden was elected. The majority of people in the U.S. appear to support Biden, although he does get poor grades in some areas such as the Afghanistan pullout, which is also why so many MSM papers and other news outlets support him as well. And I agree that Joy Reid’s comment was hyperbole. Nothing is worse than slavery.
            Anyway, I am tired of politics and that is part of why I was sorry to even enter this series of comments. Nothing we say among ourselves will change anything. I may see things a bit differently after reading your posts but pretty much have a series of beliefs that are very different from yours. I won’t go into them because I don’t want this to keep going on.
            Thanks again for your measured and informed responses to my comments. We may never agree on too much but it is good to have you as a virtual friend and I doubt anything we say to each other will change that.

            Steve Gingold

            September 23, 2021 at 4:11 PM

            • Yes, it’s time-consuming. I must’ve spent at least an hour doing the research to reply to your comment. I don’t know how there would be other legitimate graphs showing something different, given that my link takes you to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s own website with the agency’s official statistics. After you get back from your trip to Acadia, you can take a look if you’d like to pursue the subject. In the meantime, have fun, and we’ll all look forward to a new batch of pictures from one of your favorite places.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 23, 2021 at 9:49 PM

              • Thanks. I am impressed with the time and effort you put into this. Quite honestly, as I have got older I find it harder to read anything at length. Books and magazines put me to sleep and online reading causes headaches if done for more than a few minutes. I have no idea why this has become so as I used to spend hours reading history and non-fiction such as botany and science related subjects. Now I can barely retain one paragraph while reading another over time. Pretty much everyone on my father’s side of things developed dementia/alzheimers so that does have me a bit concerned. Reading would help exercise my brain but it wants to sleep more than learn. I wish it wanted to sleep later than 2 or 3 in the a.m.

                The weather for Bar Harbor is a bit iffy at last check but you know what they say about New England weather and especially about Downeast.

                Steve Gingold

                September 24, 2021 at 1:38 AM

                • Actually they say the same thing about the weather in Texas. Now you’ve got me wondering how many places there are where people say that about their local weather. Probably none in lowlands near the Equator, where even the times of sunrise and sunset don’t change much throughout the year and it’s hot all the time.

                  Since your brain doesn’t want to let you sleep past 2 or 3 in the morning, would that be a good time to read? If reading in the early morning hours made you drowsy, so much the better, as the drowsiness might let you fall back to sleep and get the extra rest you wish you could have. The tradeoff would be that you couldn’t go out as often to take pictures at dawn.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 24, 2021 at 6:54 AM

                • If only it worked that way. I have tried reading and then getting back in bed. Tried reading in bed. I get drowsy but once I turn the lights out the light in my brain turns on. Seems like it should work. Seems being the key word. I am not willing to give up my shooting time so take the occasional nap when I can. That works sometimes.

                  Steve Gingold

                  September 24, 2021 at 7:11 AM

                • There’s a venerable napping tradition for people in our age range. A wise tradition.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 24, 2021 at 7:39 AM

        • Oh, I forgot one other magnet for illegal immigration. You may remember that during the Democratic primary debates in 2019 and 2020, every single Democrat candidate, including Joe Biden, said they would give free health care to illegal immigrants.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 23, 2021 at 4:00 PM

          • Well, that may be a good thing if all of us get it. We are worried about what they could bring into the U.S. so it would be for our own good as well. But I don’t expect that you and I will see free healthcare in our lifetime so in that case I obviously would not be in favor of illegal immigrants getting it.

            Steve Gingold

            September 23, 2021 at 4:15 PM

      • Hey, that hay wordplay is pretty good.

        I saw MSNBC’s Joy Reid saying that what the border patrol agents on horses were doing in trying to keep people from crossing the river illegally was worse than what happened under slavery. Talk about delusional.

        In the top picture, I understand how you could easily not recognize the dry cattail leaf as a cattail leaf and mistake it for a pole. (A Pole, sure, but you’d never mistake it for a Swede.) Climbing hempvine’s interesting because when people think of member of the sunflower family they don’t think of vines—nor of trees, though we don’t have any sunflower-family trees in Texas.

        Steve Schwartzman

        September 23, 2021 at 8:41 AM

      • I imagine you’re aware that since yesterday the current administration has systemically elevated the horse story to the top spot in its outrage pantheon for this week.

        Steve Schwartzman

        September 24, 2021 at 6:51 PM

        • When he wanted to criticize someone but felt the need to be circumspect around his daughter, my dad would say, “He’s like the south end of a horse going north.” It’s still a useful phrase, although we seem to be overrun with ‘south ends’ as the Washington herd heads north.


          September 24, 2021 at 7:23 PM

  3. It looks like the hempvine has reached the end of its journey.

    Peter Klopp

    September 23, 2021 at 9:17 AM

    • You can see in the top picture that the hempvine had been questing higher than the top of the dry cattail leaf but eventually fell back under its own weight after finding nothing to latch on to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2021 at 4:02 PM

  4. Ah, it seems to be somehow bred into politicians and government officials to lie, obscure the truth and try to deflect our attention from the things they’re trying to hide – and I’m sure that will never change!

    Ann Mackay

    September 24, 2021 at 6:27 AM

    • It seems that you’re as much a realist as I am (even to the point of calling myself a cynic). I’ll bet you’ve even noticed that the sky is blue and the sun is yellow—and that “politicians and government officials lie, obscure the truth and try to deflect our attention from the things they’re trying to hide.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2021 at 7:00 AM

  5. Hey Steve … great photos! The sky in the first pic looks like rain on the horizon .. great background


    September 30, 2021 at 2:24 PM

    • Thanks. You’re right that the background in the top picture looks like it was raining. It wasn’t, but my use of flash on the subject caused the sky to render darker than it actually appeared to my eyes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2021 at 5:49 PM

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