Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

What I couldn’t see

with 10 comments

The cedar sage (Salvia roemeriana) in wooded areas of my neighborhood was out in force by the middle of April. I found plenty of those plants to photograph in Great Hills Park, and then on April 17th I spent time with a group of them on a rocky embankment along Morado Circle. It’s not unusual to see cedar sage flowers that have fallen off, but one really caught my attention—and caught is an apt word. The flower had landed on a leaf and miraculously was standing upright. I assumed the base of the fallen flower had happened to land in a small hole in the leaf, and that accounted for the flower’s apparent defiance of gravity. After taking some pictures of the prodigy I touched it, and only then from the way it swung about did I realize that a strand of spider silk, still invisible to me, had kept the flower from falling over. My 100mm macro lens and camera sensor resolved the strand of silk that my unaided eyes couldn’t see. Now your eyes get to see it. They also get to see some nearby cedar sage buds that had begun opening.



§          §          §



As much as I’ve been the bearer of reassurance in my photographs from nature, I’ve also been the bearer of increasingly dismal social news in my commentaries. For the past decade, and especially since the moral panic of 2020, “wokeism” has rapidly been taking over our institutions. Medicine is no exception. Some professors of medicine have taken to denying biological sex. Medical schools are already plotting to make gender ideology and racist ideology required parts of their curriculum. Faculty and staff who won’t pledge fealty to those delusional and hateful things will risk getting fired, and people who apply to work there but don’t show evidence of sufficiently “woke” fervor won’t get hired in the first place. Medical students will face the same kinds of pressure. You can read the distressing details in John D. Sailer’s article on the website of the National Association of Scholars.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2022 at 4:33 AM

10 Responses

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  1. Spiders catch more than dinner with their silk, that’s for sure. So much of it is invisible to us until something — a flower, a dragonfly, a bee — gets caught and held. As for the sage: that Roemer fellow certainly did roam around a lot.


    May 5, 2022 at 7:21 AM

    • Spiders have also caught the attention of scientists and engineers: spider silk has greater tensile strength than steel of the same mass (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMN_wQ6Zyy0).

      Your word “invisible” took me in another direction: “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux, on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur.” “What’s essential is invisible to our eyes; we truly see only with the heart.” So wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in The Little Prince.

      And speaking of wisdom, we can call Roemer a botanical sage.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2022 at 7:37 AM

  2. That one strand of a spider’s web is so strong always amazes me. Isn’t it wonderful what our camera’s eye can see? It’s opened my eyes too.


    May 5, 2022 at 8:53 AM

    • The perfecting of lenses let our civilization make great advances in many fields, including astronomy, botany, zoology, anatomy, and medicine. And of course photography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2022 at 11:34 AM

  3. Cool! We had a “floating” sage flower in our garden too, resting on nothing –

    hanging sage flower

    • Glad you got to enjoy one, too. Maybe more flowers are floating around than we realize.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2022 at 4:11 PM

      • Now that is an appealing thought – lots of floating flowers! (Might need a lot of spiders though!) The spider certainly arranged that flower well. 🙂

        Ann Mackay

        May 8, 2022 at 6:32 PM

        • Zillions of spiders exist, and therefore tons of spider silk as well, so that shouldn’t be an obstacle.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 8, 2022 at 7:16 PM

  4. Such a thin strand of silk made all the difference!

    Alessandra Chaves

    May 5, 2022 at 10:23 PM

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