Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Texas groundsel seed head

with 15 comments


In the last post you saw a group of Texas groundsel, Senecio ampullaceus, with bright yellow flowers. Also from March 19th in western Bastrop County comes this much closer view of a Texas groundsel seed head.



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“Bills like this make schools more hostile, and make no mistake, it results in hate, bigotry, and yes, sometimes even death of our students in schools.”

“When we talk about progressive values, I can say what my progressive value is, and that’s freedom over fascism.”

So what hateful, fascistic, and sometimes even deadly thing were those two members of the House of Representatives referring to this week? It was a bill that passed the House by a narrow margin, known as the Parents Bill of Rights. And what were some of the bill’s hateful, fascistic, and occasionally even deadly provisions? Oh, you know, detestable things like:

the right of parents to know what’s in a school’s curriculum;

the right to meet at least twice a year with a child’s teacher;

the right to review a school’s budget to find out what taxpayers’ money is being spent on;

the right to find out what books are in a school’s library and to inspect those books if desired;

the right to find out about all the schools in which parents can enroll their child;

the right to address the school board;

the right to information about violent activity in their child’s school;

the right to information about any plans to eliminate gifted and talented programs in the child’s school;

the right to review any professional development materials used to train teachers;

the right to know if their child is not grade-level proficient in reading or language arts at the end of the third grade;

the right to know if a school employee or contractor acts to change a minor child’s gender markers, pronouns, or preferred name, or to allow a child to change the child’s sex-based accommodations, including locker rooms or bathrooms;

the right to know if a school employee or contractor acts to treat, advise, or address the cyberbullying of a student; treat, advise, or address the bullying or hazing of a student; treat, advise, or address a student’s mental health, suicidal ideation, or instances of self-harm; treat, advise, or address a specific threat to the safety of a student; treat, advise, or address the possession or use of drugs and other controlled substances; or treat, advise, or address an eating disorder; or if a child brings a weapon to school.


In short, parents have the right to know what’s going on with their kids at school. Hardly sounds like fascism to me.


One member of the House said “Extreme MAGA Republicans don’t want the children of America to learn about the Holocaust.” You have to assume that House member never even bothered to read the bill he voted against. If he had read it, he would have seen the following in Title VI: “It is the sense of Congress that all public elementary school and secondary school students should have opportunities to learn the history of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.” The representative had lied and claimed the opposite.

As I recently pointed out, politicians lie, often blatantly, as here. Some things never change.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 26, 2023 at 4:29 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , ,

15 Responses

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  1. I surely must have seen groundsel seed heads, but not recognized them (or paid no attention to them). What I have noticed recently are the number of anemone seed heads standing tall, and fluff from early dandelions, both European and native. Yesterday, I found my first Krigia dandelions of the year; they’ll be adding some fluff soon, as well.


    March 26, 2023 at 9:58 AM

    • It’s that typical puffball we all grew up with from the common Eurasian species. I hadn’t paid as much attention to Texas groundsel seed heads in previous years as I have now that I’m seeing so much of this species, which is increasingly going to seed. As recently as yesterday I notices several anemone seed columns of the type you mentioned.

      As for Krigia, I don’t know how to tell that apart from the similar-looking Cretan composite, Hedypnois cretica which is invasive in Austin and, as I see from BONAP, also over by you:

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2023 at 10:44 AM

  2. One seed is ready to fly off. The other will follow shortly. I have tried unsuccessfully to capture a dandelion seed at the moment after take-off.

    Peter Klopp

    March 26, 2023 at 10:10 AM

    • I’ve never caught a just-launched seed like that, either. I suspect a lot of luck is involved in the timing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2023 at 10:46 AM

  3. I love your photographs.

    Shirley Copeland

    March 26, 2023 at 7:31 PM

  4. It’s early for puffballs! Well, nature will hurry if it can.

    Alessandra Chaves

    March 27, 2023 at 9:17 AM

    • This year the wildflowers in south-central Texas came a bit earlier than average, and therefore so did the first puffballs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 27, 2023 at 9:51 AM

  5. I still pick those just to blow all the fuzzy bits to the 4 winds and as I blow I make a wish. I’ll probably never outgrow this if I haven’t by now. 🤣


    March 27, 2023 at 10:24 AM

  6. I happened to read this post on the same day as the news about the resignation of the teacher in Florida who showed her class an image of the statue of David. The media has made a meaty meal out of the issue. It’s therefore hard for me to understand exactly what happened but it seems the main problem was not David but that the teacher didn’t inform the parents beforehand about the planned lesson on David. Parents, I think, do have the right to know what is happening, in a general sense, at their child’s school but I was struck by this comment from an Italian art historian which shows how differently education is viewed around the world: “According to Florentine art historian and dean of the University for Foreigners in Siena, Tomaso Montanari, such an attitude was “disconcerting”.

    “First comes the dismay at the absence of educational freedom, as it should not be restricted or manipulated by families,” Montanari said.” ( Is this a mainstream view in Italy? Possibly. )
    When my siblings were with me last month we had a lot of fun recalling our school days, especially our boarding school days. We laughed about things we didn’t tell our parents and about our adventures and misadventures at school. But, as well as the laughter, we remarked again and again how brave our parents were to send us away at age 12 to live and learn in an environment over which they had very little day to day control. We thrived academically, culturally and socially, despite the rather severe restrictions of boarding school life. My conclusion, then, is that parents’ rights are not wrong or fascist but what parents often need most is not rights but courage to let their children develop their own lives and thoughts.


    March 28, 2023 at 6:10 PM

    • I’d heard this incident mentioned briefly but hadn’t looked into the details until you prompted me to now. It seems Michelangelo’s “David” statue, along with his “The Creation of Adam” and Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” had been part of the art history curriculum at that school for several years. Also in effect was a policy calling for parents to be notified of any upcoming material in a course that some might consider age-inappropriate, so that concerned parents could opt their children out of that lesson. According to an NPR article, “Hope Carrasquilla, who had been principal at Tallahassee Classical for about nine months, said an email notifying parents had been written, but the administration accident[al]ly forgot to send it… According to Carrasquilla, two parents were upset they did not receive a letter and one parent complained more specifically about the nudity, equating it to pornographic material.” For me, an unintentional mistake is just that, and wouldn’t be sufficient to get a principal fired, but the NPR story goes on to note that the school board apparently had been unhappy with the principal for other reasons and used this incident to push her out.

      So it’s not the case that parents at that school are setting the curriculum or asking to. Few parents would know enough to put together a curriculum even if they wanted to. The existing policy, under which the school sets the curriculum—which is the norm everywhere—and notifies parents of anything that some might consider objectionable, had been working fine until the accidental failure to send out the notification about the “David” statue. The Parents’ Bill of Rights I mentioned in my post is similar: it merely says that parents have a right to know what’s in the curriculum. The reason that has become important in the United States recently is that ideologues in the American school system have been teaching things and following policies that many parents—in fact probably a large majority—object to.

      Historically, the United States has been a more prudish country than some others, including most European ones, and less prudish than certain other countries, particularly those in which Islam sets the rules.

      As you pointed out and happily reminisced about, children are children and will always try to evade rules and get away with things. Not having children myself, I can only imagine how hard it is for parents to ultimately let go and hope for the best.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2023 at 7:34 AM

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