Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Inland sea oats looking different

with 26 comments

I’ve often photographed seed head arcs of inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), and my post on January 16th showed two views of this grass’s leaves looking backlitly colorful. I commented then that although the species name latifolium means ‘wide leaf,’ I’d never considered inland sea oats leaves particularly wide. Now I get to add that not until walking the Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt Trail on Valentine’s Day had I ever seen a leaf of this grass as tightly rolled up along its axis as the one you see here. It pointed not only to the farthest seed head but also to the fact that nothing would keep me from photographing so distinctive a leaf.

✬        ✬        ✬

Yesterday morning I successfully woke up. I successfully got out of bed and successfully made my way to my computer, which I successfully bought three years ago. I successfully looked at e-mails that had successfully come in overnight, and I successfully replied to some of them. Then I successfully went into the kitchen, where I not long ago successfully got the fluorescent light fixtures successfully replaced. Nearby was the toaster oven I successfully ordered last month. After its arrival I’d successfully removed it from its shipping box, successfully unwrapped it, successfully put it on a counter, successfully plugged it in, and successfully turned it on. Since then we’ve successfully cooked various foods in it and successfully eaten those foods.

What I’m getting at is that increasingly many people feel obliged to attach the word successfully to routine actions. For example, in January I sent an e-mail to a company after I kept getting billed each month for a subscription I’d canceled. The first reply I got said: “The escalation form has been successfully submitted to Gannett Subscriber Services Team.” Notice the unnecessary successfully.

One place where I think almost everyone has encountered this is on websites that require you to log in. After you log out, you almost invariably get a message with wording like “You have successfully logged out.” Logging out of a website is hardly special enough to be considered a success. It’s mundane. But do you think I’ll ever successfully convince website programmers to successfully drop the superfluous word successfully? I’d say my chances are on a par with getting advertisers to stop hyping a sale as a “sales event,” or businesses that deal in X to stop calling themselves “X Solutions” — which is to say the likelihood is zero.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 21, 2022 at 4:32 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

26 Responses

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  1. Possibly that leaf has one of the leaf rollers inside.

    You did not successfully write a complete third sentence. I can’t remember if I have mentioned this in a post, but I detest the use of “reach out” rather than ask, call, etc. And, of course I am sure I have complained about “pre”visualization. We really abuse the language “irregardless” of correct grammar.

    Steve Gingold

    February 21, 2022 at 5:02 AM

    • One consequence of living as long as we have is that we gradually hear more and more things said that we know are new to the language. Some last for only a while, like “Far out, man” and “groovy.” We’re stuck with others, like “to impact” and more recently “impactful” and the “reach out” and “previsualization” that you mentioned.” I grew up saying “irregardless” but dropped the “ir-” when I realized it made the word a double negative. And now I’ve successfully added the missing “of” in the third sentence.

      I didn’t realize that an insect had rolled the inland sea oats leaf. I assumed it had dried out and curled up on its own.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2022 at 5:19 AM

      • Without opening the leaf we can’t be totally sure but most often a leaf roller (there are spiders as well as bugs that do this) is the culprit. Some do it for safety and some do it for overnight warmth.

        Steve Gingold

        February 21, 2022 at 5:29 AM

    • Those annoy me too, especially ‘reach out’. Argh!

      Ann Mackay

      February 23, 2022 at 4:56 AM

  2. I think we’re encouraged to use “reach out” because a lot of folks perceive that phrase to be friendlier, and less demanding, or even threatening, than some of the alternatives in common use. Although it sometimes brings to mind a Victorian-era book I once saw, full of stock poses to be used in recitations and melodramas, so I see the people “reaching out” as jumping up from their computer and striking a pose, arms stretched out in entreaty. Which makes it hard to keep typing your email.
    I detest getting emails from people, none of them my boss, saying “I need you to…,” which seems like a rude attempt to boss you around.

    Robert Parker

    February 21, 2022 at 7:55 AM

    • Your Victorian-book-derived image of people “jumping up from their computer and striking a pose, arms stretched out in entreaty” is funny. At least you managed to finish your comment.

      One set of language changes comes from the social sciences, and that comports with what you said about wanting words to sound friendlier. An example along the lines of “reach out” is substituting “share” for “say” or “tell,” e.g. “He shared with me that he’d had a hard time last week.” I don’t like being manipulated with words that way. What’s more, if “share” gets common enough that it becomes a mere synonym of “say” and “tell,” then the kind of people who pushed “share” in the first place will have to come up with yet another “friendlier” word for it, and the cycle repeats.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2022 at 8:26 AM

      • “Share” and “capture” are used a lot here on WP. Thanks for vouchsafing your thoughts.

        Robert Parker

        February 21, 2022 at 9:56 AM

        • I’ve increasingly vouched my thoughts here. With what safety remains to be determined in a culture of safetyism where people are ready to assault anyone who disagrees with their notion of being “safe.” In what sense are bloggers using “capture” on WP?

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 21, 2022 at 10:30 AM

  3. I successfully noticed how beautiful the seed head arc is that you successfully posted this morning.

    Peter Klopp

    February 21, 2022 at 8:41 AM

  4. LOL!!! You’ve successfully made me laugh out loud! 😂


    February 21, 2022 at 9:19 AM

  5. You already mentioned the word, but it’s one that I detest: ‘share.’ It’s a shorter distance than some might think from being asked to ‘share’ our thoughts to being asked to ‘share’ access to personal information or even personal property. I know a few people who truly believe an unwillingness to share is selfishness, rather than the result of a strong sense of self, and a willingness to set appropriate limits.

    That said, just for grins I logged into a business site I visit regularly. Then, I logged out. Sure enough: “You have successfully logged out of your account.”

    My first thought when I saw your photo was of archery. The image as a whole conveys the bow, while the leaves at the end of the stem look remarkably like the feathers at the end of an arrow. It brought to mind Longfellow’s poem “The Arrow and the Song.”

    You might be right about natural drying causing the leaf roll. When I visited Lost Maples last fall, I photographed a lot of these plants, and found leaves just like this. I assumed there was something inside, and opened a couple of them, but couldn’t find any indication of a creature having been there. Fern balls and other kinds of rolled leaves ofen will have bits of silk or whatever inside, but the sea oats leaves were clean. Hard to say, I suppose. Some insects may be neater than others.


    February 21, 2022 at 9:35 AM

    • You’ve taken your analysis of “social” vocabulary farther than I have. Social media certainly share a lot of our personal information, increasingly in ways we don’t want. Along those lines, I’ve been trying out DuckDuckGo to reduce the extent to which sites track me on the Internet. After I installed DuckDuckGo as an extension in Google’s Chrome browser, which is the one I use the most, lots of ads that had been popping up stopped appearing on websites I looked at.

      I see how today’s photo conjures up archery. I’m glad you suggested Longfellow’s poem, which I hadn’t read in many a year. I get the impression there was once a time when most Americans knew the first two lines. Now you’d be hard-pressed to find any Americans who’ve heard of Longfellow at all.

      You’ve done some inland sea oats research for me. I don’t remember seeing a leaf of it rolled in this fashion; if I do, I’ll peek inside for more evidence. Even the lack of evidence will be evidence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2022 at 10:52 AM

    • Good point about ‘share’. I dislike it because the phrase that immediately pops into my mind is ‘share a secret’ – not the safest thing to do on the internet! And I agree, that also suggests sharing personal information or property. I’m careful about personal information – too many scammers and identity thieves out there!

      Ann Mackay

      February 23, 2022 at 5:08 AM

      • I get the impression that young people in particular aren’t careful enough about revealing personal information. Once something’s on the Internet, it tends to live forever.

        Steve Schwartzman

        February 23, 2022 at 6:53 AM

  6. I like the geometry of your successful taken photograph !

    Alessandra Chaves

    February 22, 2022 at 8:26 AM

  7. You have successfully captured my attention with your successfully captured capture.


    February 23, 2022 at 3:07 AM

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