Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for January 1st, 2022

Old and new at the same time

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Most of the Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) we saw in Buda on December 20 in what is now last year had already dried out, as shown below. Even so, the top photograph confirms that some fresh plants were coming up and even producing flowers so late in the year, presumably thanks to the warmest December on record in Austin and the state of Texas as a whole.

If you’re an avid arachnid fan, click the thumbnail below for a much closer view of the peppered jumper spider, Pelegrina galathea, whose genus name traces back to the Latin pergrinus that meant ‘coming from foreign lands’ and that has given us, via Old French, the word pilgrim. Nevertheless, Pelegrina galathea is native in Texas and other parts of North America. The species name galathea seems to be fashioned from Greek galatea, meaning ‘white as milk,’ which this spider isn’t. And that reminds me of how I used to keep a straight face while quipping to my algebra students that we use the letter m to represent the slope of a line because the word slope doesn’t have an m in it.

Speaking of language, there was a time in your life when you didn’t know that the ti in English words ending in -tion, like lotion and contribution and vacation, gets pronounced sh. Years later, if you took high school chemistry, you learned that that rule doesn’t always apply, and that unlike the cation in vacation, cation as a word on its own gets pronounced in three syllables, as if it were cat-eye-on. Why these thoughts occurred to me a couple of mornings ago, I have no idea. But then a good question to start the new year off with is why so many of our thoughts come to us seemingly unbidden.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 1, 2022 at 4:35 AM

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