Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘cattails

Three rather different takes on cattail fluff

with 18 comments

Raising the ante on yesterday’s “two rather different takes” theme,
here you have three views of cattails (Typha sp.) shedding fluff.

The most advanced stage is at the top, the least advanced in the middle.
All three pictures come from Round Rock’s Meadow Lake Park on August 23rd.

  

§

§        §        §

§

  

Over the past year and a half I’ve reported on various illegal moves to treat people with different racial and ethnic characteristics differently. The other day I became aware of yet another one. Here’s the introductory paragraph in a class action lawsuit filed against Amazon on July 20:

Amazon.com enters into contracts with “delivery service partners” to bring packages to its patrons. It also engages it patently unlawful racial discrimination by providing a $10,000 bonus to “Black, Latinx, and Native American entrepreneurs” who act as its delivery service partners, while withholding this stipend from Asian-Americans and whites who deliver Amazon packages. Plaintiff Crystal Bolduc brings suit to enjoin Amazon.com from continuing these racially discriminatory practices, and to recover classwide damages on behalf of everyone who has suffered unlawful racial discrimination on account of this program.

It took my country hundreds of years to finally adopt laws that put an end to racial and ethnic discrimination. It pains me to learn there are still Americans who want to flout those laws and go back to discriminating against people based on their immutable physical characteristics. It’s barbaric.

  

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 5, 2022 at 4:27 AM

Young cattails

with 16 comments

While almost everything I saw on July 21st in the Willow Trace Pond in far north Austin was darkened old stumps, some new cattail plants (Typha sp.) had sprung up, and the arcs of their long leaves, both green and pale, caught my photographic fancy. Taking the top picture at 400mm left the lower part of the image pleasantly out of focus and reminiscent of an Impressionist painting. While you and I couldn’t stand on one of those cattail plants without crushing it, that clearly wasn’t the case for the yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassia violacea) in the portrait below. Judging by leg color, this apparently wasn’t the same bird I’d photographed 45 minutes earlier beneath some black willow trees.

 

❦         ❦         ❦

 

At any street corner we may meet a man who utters the frantic and blasphemous statement that he may be wrong. Every day one comes across somebody who says that of course his view may not be the right one. Of course his view must be the right one, or it is not his view. We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table. We are in danger of seeing philosophers who doubt the law of gravity as being a mere fancy of their own. Scoffers of old time were too proud to be convinced; but these are too humble to be convinced. The meek do inherit the earth; but the modern sceptics are too meek even to claim their inheritance.

 — G. K Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 1908

 

I also recently came across a reference to “Chesterton’s fence,” which Wikipedia explains in its article about Chesterton 

is the principle that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood. The quotation is from Chesterton’s 1929 book, The Thing: Why I Am a Catholic, in the chapter, “The Drift from Domesticity”:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’

  

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 3, 2022 at 4:26 AM

Stumped

with 17 comments

I wasn’t stumped when it came to taking photographs—the more abstract, the better—of the many slender stumps still standing erect in the Willow Trace Pond in far north Austin on July 21st. Notice the one cattail plant (Typha sp.) that had arisen in the midst of all that wreckage.

 

§

§         §         §

§

 

Covid-19

More than two years into the pandemic, most people worldwide have likely been infected with the virus at least once, epidemiologists said. Some 58% of people in the U.S. had contracted Covid-19 through February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated. Since then, a persistent wave driven by offshoots of the infectious Omicron variant has kept daily known cases in the U.S. above 100,000 for weeks….

People who don’t know whether they have been infected should be careful, Dr. Jameson [at the University of Minnesota Medical School] said, because they might yet get sick as antibodies wane and new variants arrive.

“There are plenty of people who’ve had the vaccines or even had Covid and then have gotten Covid again,” he said. “It’s not as if it makes you immortal.”

  

You can read more in a July 25th Wall Street Journal article.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 28, 2022 at 4:28 AM

More from the San Marcos Springs

with 47 comments

On February 23rd we went to Spring Lake in San Marcos, fed by the San Marcos Springs, which as you’ve heard “is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in North America. Artifacts discovered in digs conducted from 1979 to 1982 date back 12,000 years.” The folks at the Meadows Center have created a boardwalk that lets visitors walk through a wetland adjacent to the main part of the lake, and there a dense colony of dry cattails caught my attention.

Facing in the opposite direction, I’d photographed heaps of turtles sunning themselves on logs in the water.

Click to enlarge.

And here’s an important thought for our own times from a speech by Frederick Douglass in Boston in 1860:

Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power…. There can be no right of speech where any man, however lifted up, or however humble, however young, or however old, is overawed by force, and compelled to suppress his honest sentiments. Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 13, 2021 at 4:44 AM

Cattails in sunrise light

with 29 comments

After the fog dissipated on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin on the morning of December 22nd
last year, I turned my attention to making pictures of dry cattails (Typha sp.) in golden-hour light.

Is there anyone who doesn’t like the way cattail seed heads shed their fluff?
The prominent arcs in the photograph below seemed especially graceful
(though I didn’t look graceful lying on the ground to get that picture).

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2021 at 4:32 AM

Late-in-the-year scenes along Brushy Creek

with 12 comments

On December 17th we walked a section of Brushy Creek in far north Austin that was new to us. In the first picture you see how the slender leaves of a black willow tree (Salix nigra) had turned yellow and fallen onto the creek’s surface next to a colony of cattail plants (Typha domingensis), some fresh and others dried out. Nearby it was dead cattails that did the falling:

The image below shows dry goldenrod plants (Solidago sp.)
on the creek bank by dense tangles of vines and now-bare branches.

If you’re interested in the art and craft of photography, point 15 in About My Techniques pertains to all three of the pictures in today’s post. And if you’d like to go off on a bit of a maximalist tangent, you can check out Victorian interiors and certain modern décor.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 29, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Filling the frame on a sunny afternoon

with 25 comments

Here’s to expressing complexity explicitly: on the sunny but cool and breezy afternoon of December 3rd I made this fill-the-frame or more-is-more view showing a forest of bare stalks and dry cattails (Typha domingensis) at a pond along Kulmbacher Drive in far north Austin. The stalks might have been the remains of giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida), or perhaps of the slenderpod sesbania (Sesbania herbacea) you saw in pictures from the same pond last year.

And here’s a relevant quotation: “Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience—to appreciate the fact that life is complex.” ― M. Scott Peck, Further Along the Road Less Traveled, 1993.

In searching the Internet for a quotation about complexity, I found this one often misquoted, with an extra to inserted, creating the phrase “…and to begin to think multidimensionally….” That’s wrong because it makes “to begin to think multidimensionally” a third thing we should abandon the urge to do, after the urge to simplify and the urge to look for formulas and easy answers. Somebody accidentally inserted the extra to, and since then many people on the internet have propagated the mistake.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 27, 2020 at 4:30 AM

Not snow

with 31 comments

A first glance may make you think you’re seeing a dusting of snow, but no: it was fluff from cattails (Typha spp.) and goldenrod (Solidago altissima) that had settled indiscriminately over all the nearby plants at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 3rd. This is another good example of point 15 in About My Techniques.

Below is a closer and darker take on a clump of cattail seed fluff that had fallen onto a dry goldenrod plant.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 7, 2019 at 4:44 AM

The advantage of a vantage point

with 28 comments

 

Cattail Seed Heads Turned Fluffy 5845

If I got low to the ground and looked down to portray the southern dewberry flower you saw last time, I’d lain on the ground a few minutes earlier on February 22nd and aimed upward enough to align these cattails (Typha domingensis) with the cumulus clouds overhead while excluding the power lines and buildings adjacent to the Arbor Walk Pond that hosted these plants. The central cattail reminded me of Auckland’s Sky Tower, which I visited in February of 2015.

Below is a closer look at one of the unraveling cattails. This time I was standing and aimed slightly downward to bring in the pond but keep out the buildings on its far side. All those segments beyond the cattail were bulrushes.

Cattail Turned Fluffy by Bulrushes 5732

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 5, 2016 at 5:08 AM

Cattails by pond at dawn

with 32 comments

Pond and Cattails at Sunrise 1104

Twice in the fall of 2014 I pulled a Steve Gingold by going out in the dark before dawn to places where I could get in position for daybreak. Last year I showed a picture from the first of those two sessions but none from the other. Here, then, on the one-year anniversary of that second dawn expedition, is a photograph taken at a pond on the eastern side of Buda, a rapidly growing town south-southwest of Austin. Cattails (Typha domingensis) stood between the water and me.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2015 at 5:36 AM

%d bloggers like this: