Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Longhorn Cavern, part 3

with 31 comments


On January 26th we visited Longhorn Cavern State Park, which is only about an hour’s drive west of home.



All the pictures here came from my iPhone 14 in raw mode at 48.8 megapixels per image.



In many cases I went for abstractions of light and shadows.



✦        ✦        ✦


If you’ve read history books or watched documentaries about Nazi Germany in the 20th century, you probably know about the mass burnings of books that the Nazis deemed counter to their Fascist movement. You probably also think that the organized mass destruction of books is a thing of the thankfully distant past.

Not so, alas.

A book burning held by an Ontario francophone school board as an act of reconciliation with Indigenous people has received sharp condemnation from Canadian political leaders and the board itself now says it regrets its symbolic gesture.

The “flame purification” ceremony, first reported by Radio Canada, was held in 2019 by the Conseil scolaire catholique Providence, which oversees elementary and secondary schools in southwestern Ontario. Some 30 books, the national broadcaster reported, were burned for “educational purposes” and then the ashes were used as fertilizer to plant a tree.

“We bury the ashes of racism, discrimination and stereotypes in the hope that we will grow up in an inclusive country where all can live in prosperity and security,” says a video prepared for students about the book burning, Radio Canada reported.

In total, more than 4,700 books were removed from library shelves at 30 schools across the school board, and they have since been destroyed or are in the process of being recycled, Radio Canada reported.


Note the Orwellian claim that books were burned “for educational purposes.” You can read more about this in a 2021 National Post article.

I learned about the Ontario situation from Andrew Doyle’s January 2023 article in Quillette titled “A Puritanical Assault on the English Language,” which I recommend. Here’s a paragraph that also deals with books:

I am aware of how ludicrous the concept of “woke librarians” might sound, but the evidence is compelling. Even the British Library has a “Decolonising Working Group,” which has successfully persuaded its management to review its collections, “powerfully reinterpret” statues of its founders, and put more than 300 authors on a watchlist if they have even the flimsiest of connections to the slave trade. One of the group’s more risible findings is that the library’s main building is a monument to imperialism because it resembles a battleship.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 7, 2023 at 4:32 AM

31 Responses

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  1. amazing


    February 7, 2023 at 4:50 AM

  2. Quite a contrast between the smooth, almost polished-looking stone and the corrugated deposits, which look like old weathered wood.

    Robert Parker

    February 7, 2023 at 7:25 AM

  3. Caverns are such unique places! Dark, damp and alluring. You created some really nice photographs with the iPhone.
    Any place that attracts bats is a good place in my book.

    Speaking of books.
    It is a sad commentary on our society that many of our public libraries have become very dangerous places to visit. Physically as well as ideologically.

    Wally Jones

    February 7, 2023 at 8:38 AM

    • The iPhone 14’s performance pleased me. In one way the pictures are artificial, byproducts of electric lighting; that aside, I the shapes and shadows were much to my liking.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2023 at 12:57 PM

    • Until recently librarians were a bulwark in defense of free speech and against censorship. That has been rapidly changing, in (probably large) part because woke ideology has permeated the universities that train them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2023 at 1:12 PM

  4. The second image looks remarkably like a weather-worn tree stump. And the first evoked Joan Miró’s Moonbird for me for some reason: perhaps because it conveys the same sense of solidity. The variety of textures really is astonishing. The last one reminds me of some of the famous canyon photos that have come out of Utah.


    February 7, 2023 at 11:52 AM

    • Interesting that the first image should have evoked Miró’s “Moonbird” for you. Never on any of my visits to New York have I seen it. What Longhorn Cavern lacks in the stalactites and stalagmites one might expect from a large cave, it makes up for in some other forms, as you’ve been seeing in this series.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2023 at 1:05 PM

  5. I thought the Nazis in Germany were the only ones engaging in such nefarious activity. Now, book burning is happening in Canada. What next?

    Peter Klopp

    February 7, 2023 at 12:25 PM

    • Your country is unfortunately ahead of mine—which is bad enough—when it comes to the imposition of fringe ideas and the suppression of dissent. If Canadians don’t band together to oppose the rapidly growing authoritarianism, the future looks bleak.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2023 at 1:09 PM

  6. Excellent aiming!.. 🙂


    February 8, 2023 at 12:47 AM

  7. Interesting texture!

    Light Spark Creatives

    February 8, 2023 at 3:12 AM

  8. That iPhone takes some amazing pictures. Those are beautiful cave scenes, Steve.

    Lavinia Ross

    February 8, 2023 at 7:17 PM

  9. More cavern coolness.

    You do know that it is not just “woke” folks who want to ban books but only choose “woke” people for your criticisms.

    Steve Gingold

    February 9, 2023 at 3:01 AM

    • I’m against anyone, of whatever persuasion, banning or trying to ban books for adults. When it comes to children, there is such a thing as age appropriateness. From what I can tell, many of the calls for censorship from the political right involve books in school libraries, particularly elementary school libraries. You may or may not think it’s appropriate to have a book in an elementary school library that explains in graphic detail how to have various kinds of sex.

      In secondary school libraries it gets harder to know where to draw the line. Perhaps you’ve read news stories about school board meetings in which a parent begins to read a graphic passage in a book from a high school library out loud, only to have the mike cut off because a school board member deems the passage inappropriate.

      A solution might be for school libraries to keep controversial books “behind the counter,” so to speak. Parents who are okay with their children checking out one of those books could sign a permission slip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2023 at 7:33 AM

      • Huckleberry Finn is not about sex. One flew over the cuckoo’s nest is not about sex. Maybe not for first graders but certainly fourth and above should be able to understand much of what is in those books, especially since so much of what they deal with is in the daily news and there are examples in school behavior which need to be addressed rather than brushed under the rug. I agree that sex education needs to be later, most likely once children are becoming curious or even active sexually which is earlier with each generation, but learning in the schoolyard is not the right place. But the vast majority of books being banned in school libraries are not about sex. Florida’s governor wants there to be no black history curses in schools which is stupid. The verbal contortions he and his supporters go to in order to cover what their true intentions are amount to double speak. They say they are proud to teach black history but on their terms and anything else is woke indoctrination. In other words, they decide what teachers should teach and if they don’t like it the teachers can be fired. The problem with not teaching such history is that by the time politicians deem that teaching appropriate many have been indoctrinated in the other direction and as we see in so much of today’s society, such new learning is considered lies and made up…fake news etc.

        Steve Gingold

        February 9, 2023 at 3:42 PM

        • As best I can tell, the calls to ban Huckleberry Finn come from the political left, primarily because the book repeatedly uses a certain word that was common in the South at the time. The would-be censors seem not to know, or at least not to care, that the book as a whole was against slavery and in favor of the humanity of black people.

          The same activists want to ban To Kill a Mockingbird,, which similarly was against the unfair treatment of black people:


          The trope about Florida’s governor not wanting to have black history courses in his state is just that, a trope. For example, the objections to the currently pending Advanced Placement (AP) black history course were not to the history part but to the present-day “woke” ideological additions like “black queer studies,” “intersectionality and activism,” the Black Lives Matter group, and the reparations movement.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 9, 2023 at 4:18 PM

          • It’s not a trope.
            “Woke” is a word misused by many. It simply means aware of society’s injustices throughout history and today. In that regard I am woke. Woke is misused by overly enthusiastic people wanting to see a more just and equal society. They have good intentions even though misguided in many instances. Those who use woke as an insult do so to diminish those attempts and in some cases to ridicule the people trying to improve life in the United States.

            Steve Gingold

            February 9, 2023 at 4:49 PM

            • You know me: I’m for more rigor in teaching, regardless of the subject. If black history courses haven’t been implemented well, neither have reading, writing, arithmetic, science, geography, civics, and history in general. Let’s push to raise the academic level across the board.

              Whereas “woke” may have started out meaning “aware of society’s injustices throughout history and today,” it has morphed into other, more extreme things. I wish we could all agree on a word to represent the constellation of beliefs that critics of wokeism mean. People who’ve referred to that constellation of beliefs as critical race theory get disingenuous pushback that’s some arcane thing only taught in graduate school, even though public school teachers unions are on record saying they’re incorporating it into primary and secondary schools. Other terms that have been tried are identity politics, identitarianism, race essentialism, new puritanism, the successor ideology, and critical social justice.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 9, 2023 at 5:14 PM

  10. What an extraordinary-looking place it is! Generally I’m not keen on the idea of going into caves because I can feel a bit claustrophobic, so it’s great to be able to see these without actually having to go into them! 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    February 10, 2023 at 1:11 PM

  11. Great job with your iPhone! It looks like a fun place to experience. I especially like the third. There’s a lot going on there.


    February 11, 2023 at 3:33 PM

    • Agreed: a lot’s going on in that third picture. I’ve been pleased with how well the iPhone 14 cameras have been performing, particularly the 1x camera in raw mode.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2023 at 7:15 PM

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