Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Draped and dropped

with 8 comments

You may have heard that for months now Texas has been enduring a drought. That was obvious at the Willow Trace Pond in far north Austin when I visited on July 21st. The water level had dropped enough to drape algae over little stumps that had been underwater, as had most of the algae. Once the air dried out the algae it lost most of its green coloring, as you see above.

Not draped but dropped, presumably by a child and not by water, was the little toy figurine that I found on the ground near by. I guess the black dots were intended to identify the big cat as a leopard, even if no leopard ever sported such regular spots or wore such a bright yellow coat. The nondescript ground-hugging plant the leopard had bedded down on belongs to the spurge family and is in the genus Chamaesyce or Euphorbia.



✶         ✶         ✶


The other day I came across a post by Wesley Yang entitled “Yes, Things Are Really As Bad As You’ve Heard: a Leftist Schoolteacher Struggles To Say Aloud the Things He Regularly Witnesses That Are So Outlandish They Sound Made Up By Right-Wing Provocateurs.” The craziness described there isn’t encouraging, nor is the reality that the writer Yang was talking about feels the need to remain anonymous. At least the fact that some people are calling out the craziness in their ranks is encouraging.

Here’s the anonymous writer’s penultimate paragraph:

Like I said before, I’m a leftist myself; I have a real and abiding commitment to racial justice in education. Do I like having to make the same points as pundits who want me kicked out of the classroom too? Of course not. But it’s precisely because I think racism and poverty are so rampant in this nation, and our obligation to respond so overwhelming, that I can’t keep pretending these ridiculous DEI schemes aren’t hurting the children we owe so much to. They are. It’s happening, right now.

You’re welcome to check out the full article.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 29, 2022 at 4:33 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

8 Responses

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  1. I wonder where one of the paws got dropped.


    July 29, 2022 at 5:39 AM

    • I wondered about that, too. I think it’ll remain an eternal mystery—like so many other things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 29, 2022 at 6:42 AM

  2. Hopefully you don’t come across anything like what has appeared in Lake Powell. Our water bodies are low also but not nearly so as yours and others in the west.

    Steve Gingold

    July 29, 2022 at 10:03 AM

    • I hadn’t heard about the Lake Powell discovery that the plunging water level revealed. Things aren’t yet that bad here but our situation keeps worsening. I heard on television last night that Austin has gotten only 8 inches of rain so far this year, less than half its normal quota.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 29, 2022 at 10:23 AM

  3. I’m glad you told us that it’s algae draped over little stumps that had been underwater, and that after the air dried out the algae it lost most of its green coloring. I would not have guessed. We’re also in a drought. This morning I was driving on the freeway and there was a message sign saying “extreme drought, avoid outdoor”. It didn’t make sense to me, but most don’t these days anyway.

    Alessandra Chaves

    July 29, 2022 at 9:16 PM

    • Now you’ve made me wonder if I should have presented the first picture with no explanation and asked people to try to figure out what they were seeing. The teacher in me finds it natural to explain things.

      I’ve heard about the drought in California and other parts of the west, including Texas, of course. I imagine the idea behind the sign you saw was that if fewer people spend time outdoors there’s less likelihood someone will accidentally start a fire.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 29, 2022 at 10:27 PM

  4. The stripes on its tail suggests your leopard was in the process of changing its spots. It also occurred to me that it’s a great visual metaphor for a nature photographer: constantly on the prowl for images. As for the algae, I don’t think I ever would have guessed its actual nature. The lighter areas remind me of the skeletonized prickly pear pads I’ve seen — and that you’ve shown here.


    July 30, 2022 at 6:43 AM

    • That’s a good one about the leopard changing its spots, and another about a nature photographer going on the prowl for images. (I just prowled about in a dictionary and found out that prowl used to be spelled and pronounced proll.)

      As for the algae, I noticed another kind there which had dried to white and made me think it could have been the Chara I found at Doeskin Ranch a decade ago:

      Doeskin Ranch

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 30, 2022 at 7:02 AM

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