Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A reward

with 18 comments

Our house had a conventional lawn when we moved here in 2004 and path-of-least-resistance me has never done anything to change it. As a result I do have to mow every so often. The most recent time was September 7th, by which date rain had finally caused the grass to come up noticeably from its drought-induced dormancy of the summer. Near the end of my chore I noticed a single wood sorrel flower (Oxalis drummondii) and carefully mowed around it. A little later I came back to get my photographic reward.

I took some of my pictures with flash and a small aperture to keep most of the flower’s details sharp. In this shot, however, I went with natural light, which in turn dictated a broad aperture and shallow depth of field.


¶        ¶        ¶


In 2007, the U.S. Congress mandated the blending of biofuels such as corn-based ethanol into gasoline. One of the top goals: reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But today, the nation’s ethanol plants produce more than double the climate-damaging pollution, per gallon of fuel production capacity, than the nation’s oil refineries, according to a Reuters analysis of federal data….

The ethanol plants’ high emissions result in part from a history of industry-friendly federal regulation that has allowed almost all processors to sidestep the key environmental requirement of the 2007 law, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), according to academics who have studied ethanol pollution and regulatory documents examined by Reuters….

That’s the shocking lead in a September 8th Reuters article by Leah Douglas. You can learn more by reading the full article. I’ll add that I’ve been against the ethanol boondoggle ever since Congress enacted it. One big reason is that converting so much corn to ethanol drives up the price of corn, which people around the world depend on as a primary food. Remember Mexico’s 2007 tortilla crisis?


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2022 at 4:31 AM

18 Responses

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  1. At first I thought you’d found a violet. I suspect your photographic approach deepened the color. Lucky you, to have found one of these pretty flowers still lingering. I can’t remember the last time I saw one, but it’s been a while. On the other hand, our recent rains have encouraged a good bit of new growth and unexpected blooms.


    September 17, 2022 at 6:15 AM

    • The next day I happened to go around to the back yard and to my surprise there must’ve been a dozen or two dozen of these oxalis flowers out there. Because I’d found a few Missouri violets behind the house in the spring, I also wondered if maybe the flowers were violets when I first saw them from a distance. The one oxalis in the front yard was in about the same place where I’d seen that species in other years, so it wasn’t a surprise. You were right that the photographic approach may have intensified the color saturation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2022 at 9:09 PM

  2. what a beautiful, beautiful flower – wonderful capture


    September 17, 2022 at 7:30 AM

  3. It’s lovely! I love the little orange/yellow crowns around its base.


    September 17, 2022 at 8:23 AM

    • Yes, those little orange crowns really made the picture. I’m not sure I’d ever noticed them in this species before.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2022 at 9:01 PM

  4. You did a great job with your camera settings. The picture turned out really sharp despite the wide aperture setting. A true reward for not mowing down this beauty!

    Peter Klopp

    September 17, 2022 at 9:11 AM

    • Yes, a reward indeed. The tip of the rightmost bract tip turned out the sharpest. The central bract tip was almost sharp. Sometimes the overall effect doesn’t need much sharpness.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2022 at 9:14 PM

  5. Lovely image of a beautiful flower. The sorrel I see in the northeast is yellow, I’d love to see this species.


    September 17, 2022 at 10:10 AM

    • Thanks. We have a yellow-flowering species here, too, as well as a species with larger violet-colored flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2022 at 9:17 PM

  6. It’s a lovely little reward for a job well done. Like you, I haven’t mowed the lawn in quite a while and our recent rains have caused rapid growth and it is now calling me to get cutting. I try not to mow very often to allow various plants to flower for the bees and their own longevity but it just needs to be done a few times to keep it from becoming a jungle. After years of convincing I finally have Mary BEth in agreement to not deadhead our plants until spring so the various insects that overwinter in them have a snug little place to hang out until spring returns.

    Steve Gingold

    September 17, 2022 at 6:43 PM

  7. Of everyone on my block, I mow the least often, and I expect not all the neighbors are thrilled about that. What can I say? My priorities aren’t other peoples’ priorities. Similarly, probably not many of your neighbors share your interest in the well-being of overwintering insects. Different concerns, different turns.

    Steve Schwartzman

    September 17, 2022 at 9:34 PM

    • I have one neighbor who does not mow her lawn often and I think for similar reasons. But most everyone else keeps theirs trimmed and a few spend a fair amount of money trying for a golf course fairway surface. Not knowing for sure what they use to maintain the look I generally keep Bentley away from those addresses.

      Steve Gingold

      September 18, 2022 at 1:58 AM

  8. I smiled when I read that you mowed around the plant for later photographing. I’m constantly mowing around native plants to allow them to reseed. Unfortunately, this year I had to depend on helpers for mowing, and though I did mention various plants I tend to mow around, I’m not sure they were identified at all. Perhaps next year I will be able to “crazy” mow again and find wild beauty in the yard and pasture.

    For many years now, when I travel to Nebraska to visit family, I’m abhorred by the ethanol plants that have popped up just about everywhere. Not many people up north use the fuel – they know it isn’t “clean” though that doesn’t seem to be mentioned by our government. And the argument that it employs many people is not true. Perhaps the construction of an ethanol plant does create jobs, but once the facility is up and running, it employs just a few maintenance folks. Then there is the situation with water for irrigation, necessary to raise the corn. The Ogallala aquifer that supports many midwestern states (including OK and TX panhandles) continues to decline greatly. I hear plenty about the depletion of water being due to the drought, but I blame inept center pivot irrigation for corn production to be the largest water-waste, since it became widely-used.

    There’s no end to what we can find about what is being promoted by our government, and even mandated, that will be the demise of our land and life as we know it.


    September 18, 2022 at 7:12 AM

    • I certainly wasn’t going to mow down a native wildflower. I’m glad to hear—and not surprised—that you often do the same thing. Helpers are another story.

      You’re in a good position, living where you do and having strong connections to Nebraska, to confirm what a boondoggle the ethanol program is. As long as people in one group get a program that benefits them, they’re less likely to criticize programs that benefit groups elsewhere. Usually that means the general public loses. Programs should rise and fall on their merits—but that’s unfortunately not how politics works.

      (Sorry for the late reply. We were on a four-day trip to Houston and Galveston.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2022 at 6:40 PM

  9. So pleased that it wasn’t mowed … way too pretty! A lovely reward ..


    September 23, 2022 at 3:24 PM

    • That’s an advantage of being my own mower. Most people in this neighborhood have a commercial service mow their lawns, and I’m pretty sure this little flower wouldn’t have survived that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2022 at 3:35 PM

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