Portraits of Wildflowers

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Posts Tagged ‘ferns

New Zealand: along the Cathedral Cove Walk

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Five years and a day ago we found ourselves on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula, where I’d say Cathedral Cove was the scenic highlight. On our hour-long walk back up to the car park from the cove I got fascinated by what you see in the top picture: the graceful curves of leaves and korus, which is what the Māori call the fiddleheads on ferns. (Close individual koru portraits appeared here in 2015 and 2017.)

Also catching my attention along the Cathedral Cove Walk were the lichens and spiderwebs shown below. As for the brown insect, Kazuo Ishiguro might have called it the remains of the prey.

 This post ends the four-part mini-review of our 2017 New Zealand visit’s last days.

 

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It is a fine needle to thread, giving children enough space to make their own decisions and mistakes, and protecting them from real danger. Our societal pendulum has swung too far to one side—to protecting children against all risk and harm—such that many who come of age under this paradigm feel that everything is a threat, that they need safe spaces, that words are violence. By comparison, children with exposure to diverse experiences—physical, psychological, and intellectual—learn what is possible, and become more expansive. It is imperative that children experience discomfort in each of these realms: physical, psychological, and intellectual. Absent that, they end up full-grown but confused about what harm actually is. They end up children in the bodies of adults.

That’s another passage from Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein’s A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life. You can also watch many presentations by them on their Dark Horse podcasts.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 8, 2022 at 4:33 AM

Icicles on southern maidenhair ferns

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Little did I think on January 29th when Robert Parker posted a photograph of ferns in ice that I’d have a crack at the same subject just a week later. Cold rain and sleet came to Austin on February 2nd, followed by more than a full day of continuously sub-freezing temperatures. No way yesterday morning was I not going to head down to Great Hills Park and check for ice formations that the wet and then frigid weather might have created. Not far into the park I found the bulbous head of an icicle partly encasing the southern maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) that you see above. Another location offered up a bunch of icicles hanging from a cliff that also was home to maidenhair ferns.

 

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In the last post I brought up Alice Dreger‘s 2015 book Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice, and I quoted some scholars’ praise for it. Now let me quote the book’s conclusion (except for an epilogue).

If—as the investigative press collapses and no longer can function as an effective check on excess and corruption, and people live and die forever inhabiting self-obsessed corners of the Internet, and the government and the ad-selling Google industrial complex ever increase surveillance on us, and we can’t trust people in the government to be our advocates or even to be sensible—if we have any hope of maintaining freedom of thought and freedom of person in the near and distant future, we have to remember what the Founding Fathers knew: That freedom of thought and freedom of person must be erected together. That truth and justice cannot exist one without the other. That when one is threatened, the other is harmed. That justice and thus morality require the empirical pursuit.

I want to say to activists: If you want justice, support the search for truth. Engage in searches for truth. If you really want meaningful progress and not just temporary self-righteousness, carpe datum. You can begin with principles, yes, but to pursue a principle effectively, you have to know if your route will lead to your destination. If you must criticize scholars whose work challenges yours, do so on the evidence, not by poisoning the land on which we all live.

To scholars I want to say more: Our fellow human beings can’t afford to have us act like cattle in an industrial farming system. If we take seriously the importance of truth to justice and recognize the many forces now acting against the pursuit of knowledge—if we really get why our role in democracy is like no other—then we really ought to feel that we must do more to protect each other and the public from misinformation and disinformation. Doing so means taking on more responsibility to police ourselves and everybody else for accuracy and greater objectivity—taking on with renewed vigor the pursuit of accurate knowledge and putting ourselves second to that pursuit.

I know that a lot of people who met me along the way in this work thought I’d end up on one side of the war between activists and scholars. The deeper I went, however, the more obvious it became that the best activists and the best scholars actually long for the same kind of world—a free one.

Here’s the one thing I now know for sure after this very long trip: Evidence really is an ethical issue, the most important ethical issue in a modern democracy. If you want justice, you must work for truth. And if you want to work for truth, you must do a little more than wish for justice.

  

And that was in 2015, before the onslaught of religiously fanatical unreasoners and cancelers who hit us in 2020 and who have kept up their assaults ever since.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 5, 2022 at 4:24 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Lichens, mosses, and ferns

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All the things mentioned in the title commonly occur in Great Hills Park, as I confirmed for the umpteenth time on January 2nd. The top picture looks like it shows hoary rosette lichen, Physcia aipolia. The young fern in the bottom picture seems to be a southern maidenhair, Adiantum capillus-veneris. I’m sorry I can’t give any information about the other greenery.

   

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“…Countries that have pushed the laudable doctrines of equality of opportunity most assiduously (so that would be the Scandinavian countries) have the lowest rates of STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] enrolment among females in the world, as it turns out that freed females, so to speak, given free choice, do not often voluntarily become engineers and mathematicians and physicists. To call this a major problem for those who insist (1) that all sex differences are socially constructed and (2) that equality of opportunity doctrines will necessarily equalize outcomes is to say almost nothing at all.”

That’s from Jordan Peterson’s essay “Equity: When the Left Goes Too Far,” which you’re welcome to read. While discrepancies in upper-echelon jobs get lots of attention, the lower portion of the job market, which employs a much larger work force, scarcely draws any attention. Consider the people who come around and empty the garbage cans that home-dwellers put out at their curb, and the dumpsters of people in apartment complexes. I distinctly remember—because it was so unusual—seeing one woman working on a garbage-collecting crew, and I might have seen a second one at another time. That’s it for my entire life. How many women have you ever seen working in a pick-up-the-garbage crew?

Similarly, here in Texas the people who sweat long hours maintaining yards in the summer heat, and who bake on rooftops putting shingles on houses, are universally male. I’ve never seen a woman doing either of those jobs (though a woman is in charge of the arborist crew that has come to our house several times to cut down damaged trees, and she’s always joined in doing the physical work along with the men). In your experience, what percent of the yard maintenance and roofing crews that you’ve see are female? Can you imagine any sort of “affirmative action” that will coax tens of thousands of women to give up even low-paying positions in winter-warmed and summer-air-conditioned offices to do those jobs instead? That’s a rhetorical question.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 18, 2022 at 4:38 AM

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Maidenhair ferns withstanding ice

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Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris), which thrive in places where the banks of Great Hills Park’s main creek form cliffs, go dormant in droughts but seem to have held up pretty well to the rare ice and snow that descended on us in mid-February. You’ll see some of those ferns protruding from the ice in each of the first picture’s three tiers, and you get a better look in the close-up below, both taken on February 20th.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 7, 2021 at 4:40 AM

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Return to the cliff: orange and green

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On January 16th, two weeks after my first foray this year to the cliff on the west side of Capital of Texas Highway south of FM 2222, I returned. I did so because when driving past there the previous day I’d noticed that the recent snow/sleet had invigorated the water’s seeping on the face of the cliff. Some of my new photographs highlighted orange areas among the rocks. In the first picture, notice in the upper left how the dead roots or stems of plants were slowly become mineralized. And a little right of center near the bottom it was good of a pillbug to appear as a token representative of the animal kingdom.

In the middle photograph, some of the drying southern maidenhair fern leaves (Adiantum capillus-veneris) at the upper right were taking on a paler version of the orange in or on the rocks. What the green stuff in the final picture was, I don’t know.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2021 at 4:37 AM

A seeping cliff, a shrine, a medallion

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The cliff on the west side of the Capital of Texas Highway just south of FM 2222 seeps water, especially in the days after rain. The picture above shows how a section of the cliff looked on January 2nd after we’d had rain a few days earlier; I’d say you’re looking at a height of about 20 ft. (6m) here. In one place on the face of the cliff some southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) adorned a small natural shrine whose not deep but deep-shadowed interior a flash provided visual admission to. Notice how a few drops of water, inviters and sustainers of ferns, hung from the little grotto’s upper lip

Elsewhere the same kind of ferns made up part of a large medallion. The many darkened ferns testify to the previous period of several months when we’d had almost no rain.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 19, 2021 at 4:39 AM

A confirmation on upper Bull Creek

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Yesterday you saw two views of a tiny wildflower that got identified for me as Samolus ebracteatus var. cuneatus, known as limewater brookweed and limestone brook-pimpernel. Later it occurred to me that I might have spotted the species last year at the base of a limestone overhang a few miles away along the upper reaches of Bull Creek, so on July 1st I went back to the spot to find out. Sure enough, that was it. The picture above shows you a few of those plants practically lost among some healthy southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) and inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).

If you could float back maybe 30 feet from this ferny nook and look to your left, you’d get the view shown below of the scalloped limestone cliffs along this scenic stretch of Bull Creek. Notice the dead trees hanging upside; that phenomenon was the focus of a post in 2016.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 10, 2020 at 4:42 AM

Ferns and mosses at Bull Creek Park

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Five years ago today I visited Bull Creek District Park, where I found these mosses and southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) thriving on a cliff along Bull Creek after heavy rains in May.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 29, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Green triangularity times two

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At least twice in the past month I’ve photographed plants that I noticed growing in the approximate shape of a triangle (at least as a two-dimensional photograph renders them). The first came on August 24th, when a mustang grape vine, Vitis mustangensis, that had covered the broken remains of a dead tree caught my fancy at Parmer Lane and Blue Bluff Rd. south of Manor. A greenbrier vine, Smilax bona-nox, had also climbed onto the mound; that accounts for the yellow-orange leaves near the photograph’s bottom edge.

I photographed the other green triangle on September 7th at the base of a cliff along Bull Creek near Spicewood Springs Rd. Even during a drought the rocks still seeped enough water to support some southern maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris. I don’t know what the mixed-in plant species are.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2019 at 4:43 AM

A new waterfall

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Way back on April 20th I found a waterfall in the Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt that was new to me. I took pictures in rather harsh light and also went back the next day to take more photographs in slightly softer light. Somehow I never showed any of those pictures here, so partly to make up for that and partly as a scene-setter, I’ve begun this post with a ferns-on-boulder view of the falls from back then.

On June 28th I returned to the waterfall, where I experimented with fast shutter speeds (above, 1/1600 of a second, shades of Hokusai’s “Great Wave”) and slow shutter speeds (below, 1/25 of a second). Each approach has advantages and drawbacks.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 7, 2019 at 4:48 AM

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