Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mound builders

with 20 comments

Sometimes my posts begin writing themselves in my head when I’m still out taking pictures. In this case while I was walking in the southern portion of Great Hills Park on July 15th I began thinking about how the Clematis drummondii vines formed a botanical mound beneath the mounded cloud in the sky. That reminded me of the Mound Builder cultures in North America, and how the Latin word for ‘mound’ was cumulus, which is the name scientists have given to the kind of cloud that drifted over the Clematis. All I had to do in putting this post together later in the day was transcribe the thoughts I’d had in nature that morning. Below is a closer look at the viney mound in its own right.



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There’s been a push among activists to “decolonize” a lot of things in modern society and to “center” indigenous ways of interpreting the world. But what happens when indigenous people reject “woke” world-ways? Will ideologues go ahead and insist on “colonizing” the indigenous into adopting modern “woke” ways? I haven’t heard anyone ask that question. It’s a serious one but it also has its humorous side, as in this two-minute video clip that begins with Matt Walsh interviewing a Maasai man and asking “What if a man decides that his gender identity is a woman?”


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 24, 2022 at 4:33 AM

20 Responses

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  1. It looks as if the clematis somehow produced the cloud – either exhaled it or the cloud is clematis fluff that has blown away.

    Ann Mackay

    July 24, 2022 at 5:02 AM

    • I like the way you imagined the cloud coming from the clematis, either via breathing or wind. I only thought of the cloud and the clematis as coincidentally juxtaposed, without any causality.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 24, 2022 at 8:35 AM

  2. I thought the same as the comment above. Like a smoke signal. The interview was good, and I ended up watching the whole Will Cain interview with Matt Walsh: https://youtu.be/9Gy8073sssI


    July 24, 2022 at 6:50 AM

    • Thanks for the link. “Turns out a woman is an adult human female.” Who could have imagined that would become a controversial statement? It’s also a definition that a nominee for the United States Supreme Court four months ago couldn’t come up with. She demurred, saying she’s not a biologist. I commented on that at the time, and I quoted a retort that Kellie-Jay Keen gave in response to someone else’s inference that only a biologist could answer the question: “Oh my God, don’t be ridiculous…. I’m not a vet, but I know what a dog is.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 24, 2022 at 8:47 AM

  3. As soon as I read your title, I thought of the Mississippi mound builders, and the Caddo people here in Texas. I also remember seeing cumulus clouds building in the sky above mounds of Baccharis at the Attwater prairie. It’s fun to catch that sort of pairing now and then. The clematis certainly have mounded up well there.

    Your paragraph about cultural ‘decolonization’ reminded me of a few conversations I’ve heard among Hispanic friends and co-workers about the term ‘Latinx.’ As one said, “What gives a bunch of white people the right to decide what our language and culture should be?” Indeed. It’s rich that the proponents of ‘decolonization’ are among the worst colonizers in the world. (See also: gender studies.)


    July 24, 2022 at 8:30 AM

    • We could say that the clematis and the cloud amound to a good pairing, even to the alliterative words themselves. (That got me to wondering whether the words mound and mount are related. Turns out etymologists don’t know where mound came from: https://www.etymonline.com/word/mound.)

      I’ve heard reports that only 2% of Latinos approve of the term Latinx, which, if hard for English speakers to know how to pronounce, is beyond the pale for Spanish speakers to pronounce. Transgressive activists are pushing gratuitous x’s into English, too, in a coinage like womxn (which by the way follows the older ideological form womyn). I checked a few online sites just now and found the admonition to pronounce womxn the same as woman. Apparently only the spelling needs to promote ideology; speakers are granted a dispensation to pronounce the word in the traditional way.

      I like the way you put it: “It’s rich that the proponents of ‘decolonization’ are among the worst colonizers in the world.” And coincidentally many of those proponents are, by world standards, rich.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 24, 2022 at 9:54 AM

  4. A lovely mounding of images and words. The video is fun but I can’t seem to find out (short of watching the documentary) if Matt Walsh interviewed people from other cultures. He may have received quite different responses from some Pacific cultures. Also, why is “What is a Woman” a priority for Matt Walsh. Why not, “What is a Man?”. Did Matt Walsh ask the Maasai women, “What is a Woman?” Your question on colonization is an interesting one. My experience is that indigenous cultures usually have different world views from the ‘woke” and “unwoke” of modern idealogues which can mean they are more ‘woke’ than the west’s wokest. I should support that statement but I need to rush to an appointment.


    July 24, 2022 at 9:27 PM

    • I’ve not watched Matt Walsh’s full-length movie, either, so I don’t know the full extent of the different cultures he examined nor the male~female ratio of his interviewees in each culture. The more the better, as far as I’m concerned, though I understand that there was only so much he could squeeze into a single movie without making it too long to be practical. Regarding the point Matt Walsh was trying to make, I think he could just as well have asked “What is a man?” People who couldn’t or wouldn’t define one sex almost certainly couldn’t or wouldn’t have been able to define the other.

      Any examples that you can find of indigenous cultures out-‘woking’ the ‘woke’ will be welcome, should you care to do a little research.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 24, 2022 at 9:50 PM

      • https://e-tangata.co.nz/reflections/when-did-you-first-know-you-were-a-faafafine/ I am not sure this is ‘outwoking’ anyone but it does give some insight into different viewpoints in another culture. https://e-tangata.co.nz/reflections/when-did-you-first-know-you-were-a-faafafine/


        July 25, 2022 at 1:41 AM

        • I go on the assumption that people are people, meaning that there’s a similar occurrence of psychological traits all around the world. If gender dysphoria (also called transsexualism, then transgenderism) occurs in the United States, I expect it to occur in other cultures at about the same rate. As best I can tell, the natural rate of occurrence for gender dysphoria is less than 1% of the population.

          Trans activists demand that the 99+% radically change society to accommodate the less than 1%. As you’ve read in other posts of mine, that includes housing biological males in the same prison cells as biological females, and it includes letting a powerfully built biological male who’s 1.85 m tall compete in swimming matches against much smaller and less powerfully built biological females. Even worse, it includes teachers in elementary school telling children that they can change their gender, and sometimes even encouraging or colluding with them to do so. Here’s an article about that:


          It’s that sort of militant trans ideology that has gotten increasingly many people incensed.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 25, 2022 at 7:43 AM

        • Activists are even trying to deny biological sex retroactively, i.e. in past civilizations:


          Steve Schwartzman

          July 25, 2022 at 8:27 AM

          • Hmm….well……new ideas are always popping up. I wouldn’t think it necessary to bar sexual identification but it is necessary for archaeologists to understand the cultural context of human remains. At least that is the case in NZ where ancestral bones are hugely significant to Māori. We have a strict set of protocols to follow when Koiwi Tangata/Human Remains are found. ‘In Māori ………, iwi literally means “bone”.[8] Māori may refer to returning home after travelling or living elsewhere as “going back to the bones” — literally to the burial-areas of the ancestors. Māori author Keri Hulme’s novel The Bone People (1985) has a title linked directly to the dual meaning of bone and “tribal people”. ‘ (Wikipedia). So bones or skeletons are not something that can be identified simply as male or female alone.


            July 25, 2022 at 9:08 PM

            • I didn’t know that iwi also means ‘bone’. The Wikipedia article mentions that the word has relatives in other Polynesian languages, so I checked Eve’s language, Cebuano, and found that the word for ‘bone’ is bukog. I feel in my bones that that’s not related.

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 25, 2022 at 9:43 PM

      • I have just posted an example but it has gone to moderation because I accidentally put two links in my comment.


        July 25, 2022 at 1:42 AM

        • I’ve found that posting two links in separate comments evades WordPress’s precautionary moderation.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 25, 2022 at 6:44 AM

          • Yes. I usually only post one link per comment. This was a slip of my fingers mistake.


            July 25, 2022 at 7:41 AM

  5. […] of the swirly strands that fertilized Clematis drummondii flowers produce each summer. Compared to the photographs two days ago, this is an intimate view, showing a span of maybe two inches. The photograph dates back to July […]

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