Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Milton Reimers Ranch Park

with 35 comments

The last time we’d been to Milton Reimers Ranch Park was maybe 20 years ago, when it was still privately owned. Eventually Travis County acquired it in its largest parkland acquisition ever. We visited on January 14th and drove down to one of the portions along the Pedernales River, where we found the water flow as reduced as you see in the top picture. The stumps on the far shore are from bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum), a bunch of which I once read got cut down at the time the Highland Lakes dams were built in the middle of the last century; I never understood the necessity for that. The stumps at Reimers bore unmistakable evidence of having been sawed across at a height of several feet above the ground, but maybe that happened in the 1800s, when settlers prized the wood of bald cypress trees.

In any case, the dry stumps gave me opportunities for abstract
closeups of designs in the wood, as you see above and below.

UPDATE: I just came across an article pointing out that a 2,674-year-old bald cypress tree in North Carolina is the oldest known living tree in eastern North America.

⩕          ⩕          ⩕

“Syracuse [University] punishes student for asking man at party if he’s a Canadian sex offender.” That’s the headline from a January 19th article posted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Syracuse University has a policy that bans inflicting “mental harm,” and of course the problem with such a nebulous concept is that “mental harm” is subjective: hyper-sensitive people can claim that any action causes them “mental harm.” Many people in my country who espouse “woke” policies cause me mental distress, but that doesn’t give me any right to punish those people or have institutions punish them on my behalf. You’re welcome to read the particulars of the Syracuse University case on the website of FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education; it’s a non-partisan legal organization that defends the free-speech and due-process rights of students and teachers.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman 



Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 23, 2022 at 4:31 AM

35 Responses

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  1. Strange sight, the stumps in the water. But I am also into abstract bark of trees. I don’t think I have seen a bald cypress tree.

    Alessandra Chaves

    January 23, 2022 at 7:47 AM

    • The USDA map shows bald cypress trees growing from New York down through Texas but no farther west, so you wouldn’t see any in California. As for abstractions, a prominent stump on our side of the river offered its exposed and weathered wood to my camera.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2022 at 8:28 AM

  2. The second photo’s especially interesting. It looks as though the river itself has been petrified: its flow turned into wood. I like the color of the third photo, and the lines of checking. The second and third seen together present an interesting contrast of vertical and horizontal.


    January 23, 2022 at 7:51 AM

  3. The last image reminds me of elephant skin. It looks like a lovely park with a good beach.


    January 23, 2022 at 8:27 AM

  4. Tree stumps have always exerted a great attraction for me as a photographer. Your photos of abstraction indicate another interest we two have in common, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    January 23, 2022 at 8:30 AM

    • That makes us distant partners in arboreal abstraction. You’ve certainly got an abundance of trees in British Columbia.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2022 at 8:44 AM

  5. I’ve visited a number of Frank Lloyd Wright houses that used cypress lumber – paneling, built-in furniture, etc. and I think exterior use too – I think sometimes it was bald cypress, and sometimes tidewater/red cypress, very handsome wood. On a warm day, the wood still gives off a pleasant resinous smell after many years.

    Robert Parker

    January 23, 2022 at 8:55 AM

    • That kind of resinous smell has always worked its magic on me, too. On our most recent trip to upstate New York, in 2019, we visited Wright’s Martin House complex in Buffalo, followed by Graycliff, the summer home on Lake Erie that he designed for the Martin Family. Of the many wooden trimmings, I don’t know if any were cypress.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2022 at 9:10 AM

      • I remember a room in the Martin House, with brick walls and gold leaf applied to the mortar joints, but don’t recall what type of wood, I don’t think it was cypress. In some of his houses, he used mahogany and I think sometimes oak. And plywood! That was kind of a surprise.

        Robert Parker

        January 23, 2022 at 9:42 AM

        • I wonder if plywood way back then was expensive, like so much of Wright’s ornamentation.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 23, 2022 at 12:20 PM

          • I don’t think so, the Usonian houses were supposedly more economical buildings, and his own house in Wisconsin definitely had some economical aspects, like plywood and inexpensive lighting fixtures. I guess the mahogany was reserved for people who could afford such stuff.

            Robert Parker

            January 23, 2022 at 2:32 PM

  6. Wonderful photos


    January 23, 2022 at 12:51 PM

  7. It is odd that trees would be cut at the edge of a reservoir. The Quabbin has many uprooted stumps along its edges but those were all in the middle of what would be flooded so made sense. Since they may have been deemed “without purpose” when your reservoir was being created that might explain the bald cypress being cut for the wood. The second shot gives a hint of why the wood was prized as it shows an obvious attractive figure to the grain.

    Steve Gingold

    January 24, 2022 at 2:51 AM

    • You may be right that people thought—incorrectly, as things turned out—that the water would back up enough in nearby rivers and creeks to drown the bald cypress trees, so people might as well go ahead and harvest the valuable wood.

      At the end of this post’s first part I just added a link to an article pointing out that a 2,674-year-old bald cypress tree in North Carolina is the oldest known living tree in eastern North America.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 24, 2022 at 8:35 AM

      • Any tree that old is a miracle. The west has quite a few that are quite old. A few miles from here we have the largest Sycamore east of the Mississippi. “The Buttonball Tree”.

        Steve Gingold

        January 26, 2022 at 4:14 AM

        • That’s a great (literally) specimen. I hope you’ve been able to do something photographic with it. I know that can be hard to do in a town, where poles, wires, buildings, and the like want to photobomb us.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 26, 2022 at 9:20 AM

          • I’ve looked at it multiple times but the houses and wires are just too much and it has recently been fenced in so closeups would be a challenge. Maybe if I could lie below it or had a drone to be above.

            Steve Gingold

            January 26, 2022 at 4:15 PM

  8. Great textures! 🙂


    January 24, 2022 at 9:46 PM

  9. […] The opening picture a few days ago showed that the flow in the Pedernales River at Milton Reimers Ranch Park on January 14th was reduced enough to have left portions of the river bed dry or largely so. That provided me opportunities for views of algae, like the orange patch above with a maroon sycamore leaf (Platanus occidentalis) in it, or the green algae below that was corrugating and turning pale as it dried out. […]

  10. The middle image has a texture similar to pieces of driftwood I have seen on NZ beaches. It is very attractive and looks, as Linda says, “as though the river itself has been petrified”.


    January 28, 2022 at 6:26 AM

    • As long as my brain doesn’t also end up looking like that I think I’ll be okay.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2022 at 6:45 AM

      • Yes, best to keep the brain more pliable.


        January 28, 2022 at 7:07 AM

        • A brain that’s more pliable
          Yields thoughts more reliable.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 28, 2022 at 7:20 AM

          • Indeed.


            January 28, 2022 at 7:41 AM

            • Now you’ve reminded me of “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” One website notes that “The first records of a friend in need is a friend indeed in English come from around 1450. However, the idea that this proverb expresses can be traced all the way back to 400 B.C. in the work of the ancient Greek playwright Euripides.”

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 28, 2022 at 8:17 AM

              • That is so interesting! Hooray for friends in need from time immemorial.


                January 28, 2022 at 3:05 PM

                • The interplay in English between “in need” and “indeed” is what makes the proverb so memorable. I wonder if the wording by Euripides also included features like rhythm or rhyme or similar sounds that made it memorable.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 28, 2022 at 3:18 PM

                • Quite possibly.


                  January 28, 2022 at 3:30 PM

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