Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘flowers

Great Plains ladies’ tresses orchids revisited

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Last month you heard how on November 1st I went in search of Great Plains ladies’ tresses orchids (Spiranthes magnicamporum) on a property in my part of town that I rely on for those flowers yet found only a few. Exactly three weeks later I returned and after much wandering about managed to find a few more orchids that I’d missed the first time around. One of those is shown above in a soft approach. In contrast, I made the portrait below when a shaft of light coming through the canopy of trees briefly lit up one of the orchids.

 

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“I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and… actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing.” — John Malone in a CNBC interview on November 19, 2021. Malone is the top shareholder of Discovery, which is poised to take over CNN. For a long time now I’ve lamented the devolution of CNN, which I remember from the 1990s, when you could tune in even at 3 AM and get news of the world.

And how ’bout this for a strange story? “A dentist in Italy faces possible criminal charges after trying to receive a coronavirus vaccine in a fake arm made of silicone.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 6, 2021 at 4:34 AM

Branched

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At Palmetto State Park in Gonzales County on November 23rd the Lady Eve called my attention to some small flowers of a type I’d never seen before. Floyd Waller later identified them (thanks) as Dicliptera brachiata, colloquially known by the quaintly descriptive name branched foldwing. Have any of you ever heard of this wildflower? Later I checked botanist Bill Carr’s Travis County plant list and learned that this species grows in my own county, so now I’ll be on the lookout for it closer to home.

You might also use the word branched to describe the shadows on a nearby swampy pond covered with duckweed and fallen dry tree leaves.

And speaking of fallen leaves, here’s an abstract view of some on a drying palmetto (Sabal minor):

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American school districts continue to racialize their curriculum and their teaching, even as they deny doing so. That New York Post article includes links to four related stories. Those stories contain links to even more articles.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 4, 2021 at 4:26 AM

Insects on goldenrod

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From the morning of November 9th on the shore of the Riata Trace Pond, here are two views of flowering goldenrod plants, probably Solidago altissima. In the top photograph you may strain your eyes to make out the Ailanthus webworm moth (which I didn’t even notice when I took the picture), but you sure can’t miss the umbrella paper wasp (Polistes carolina) shown below.


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UPDATE. Last month I reported on the way the public schools in Wellesley, Massachusetts, were purposely segregating students by race. Now I’ve learned about intentional racial segregation in a New York City junior high school. Needless to say—except that I find myself having to say it—racial segregation has been illegal in American schools ever since the Brown vs. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2021 at 4:24 AM

Dew, dew, dew what you did, did, did before

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From November 9th at the Riata Trace Pond, look what the dew did to this gulf vervain (Verbena xutha) inflorescence. For a closer look at the effects of the roration, click the excerpt below.


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As a Thanksgiving follow-up, you can check out an appreciation of America by Jewish Iranian refugee Roya Hakakian, A Modern-Day Pilgrim From the ‘Land of No,‘ that appeared in Common Sense by Bari Weiss.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 26, 2021 at 4:32 AM

Catching up with cowpen daisies

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I saw some pleasant cowpen daisies (Verbesina encelioides) this fall but didn’t manage to squeeze any pictures of them into my recent parade of posts till now. The view above of a fresh flower head comes from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 11th, while the portrait of flower-backed seed head remains is from October 6th along Rain Creek Parkway in my neighborhood. Even now I’m still seeing some cowpen daisies.

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Happy Thanksgiving today to those of you in the United States—and for that matter to those of you in other countries. Here’s an article appropriate to the occasion: “Grandma accidentally invited a stranger to Thanksgiving. Now, they are ‘all set for year 6.'”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 25, 2021 at 4:32 AM

Mexican hat in autumn

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Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) in central Texas typically reaches its colonial peak in May. That said, individual plants can often be seen flowering here for the rest of the year. So it was on October 6th along Rain Creek Parkway in my neighborhood, where I found a modest group of them.

At the top, you see a Mexican hat inflorescence beginning to form on a gracefully curving stalk. The other two views show a fresh flower head from above and from the side.


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Time to remind you about the Good News Network. “The website, with its archive of 21,000 positive news stories from around the globe, confirms what people already know—that good news itself is not in short supply; the broadcasting of it is…. Thomas Jefferson said the job of journalists was to portray accurately what was happening in society. GNN was founded because the media was failing to report the positive news.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 22, 2021 at 4:33 AM

Sunny poverty weed

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On October 14th I photographed some wet poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta) flowering along Bull Creek under overcast skies. As the month advanced, many of these bushes reached their peak of fluffiness, which I spent time recording in the town of Cedar Park on the morning of the 29th. Now the sun shone and the sky was clear blue, so the photographs came out quite different from those you saw earlier. Another factor this time was the presence of wind, which blew the bushes about. In the top picture you can pick out a couple of bits of fluff that had gone airborne. To deal with wind gusts I turned to shutter speeds as high as 1/640 of a second. That was fast enough to stop the motion in the following picture.


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Pronouns, pronouns, who’s got the pronouns?

According to the Gender Pronouns page on the website of Springfield College in Massachusetts,

  • The best thing to do if you use the wrong pronoun for someone is to say something right away, such as “Sorry, I meant they.” Fix it, but do not call special attention to the error in the moment. If you realize your mistake after the fact, apologize in private and move on.
  • It can be tempting to go on and on about how bad you feel that you messed up or how hard it is for you to get it right. But please, don’t. It is inappropriate and makes the person who was misgendered feel awkward and responsible for comforting you, which is not their job. It is your job to remember people’s pronouns.

My pronouns this week are mzekpitran for the subjective case and ervijmpt for the objective case. It is your job to remember them.

[Craziness and frivolity aside, you may be surprised that my subjective and objective pronouns don’t resemble each other. Actually English does the same thing with some of its pronouns—a fact that native speakers don’t normally think about. Consider the way English pairs the first-person I as a subject with the dissimilar me as an object, and likewise we with the dissimilar us. Corresponding to the I/me forms in the singular are the related French je/me, Russian я (ya)/меня (menyá), Portuguese eu/me, Italian io/me, Catalan jo/me, and Spanish yo/me].

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 17, 2021 at 4:40 AM

Craters of the Moon — in a way

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So you don’t see a moon or craters in these two October 19th photographs
of Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) and wispy clouds.

The title of today’s post’s refers to the location: Craters of the Moon Blvd. in Pflugerville.
Even now, in mid-November, some Maximilian sunflowers are still with us.

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I’m about a third of the way through Bad News, by the interestingly named Batya Ungar-Sargon, who declares herself to be on the political left. If you’d like, you can watch her in a C-SPAN interview from October 24th. Here are a few things in her book that stood out for me so far.

According to a sociological study of the American press done back in 1986, “journalists were getting more and more liberal with each new generation. Among journalists fifty and older, 43 percent said they were left of center and 23 percent said they were right of center. Of journalists between the ages of thirty-five and fifty, 52 percent identified as being on the left, but just 16 percent as conservative. And in the post-Watergate generation, 70 percent identified as liberals, while just 13 percent said they were conservative.”

“And yet, the trends the sociologists noted in 1986 have only accelerated today. In 1984, 26 percent of journalists voted for Ronald Reagan; by 2014, just 7 percent of journalists identified as Republican. By 2015, 96 percent of journalists who made donations to a political campaign donated to Hillary Clinton. When researchers from Arizona State University and Texas A&M University surveyed business journalists from the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg News, Associated Press, Forbes, New York Times, Reuters, and Washington Post in 2018, they found that just 4 percent had conservative political views.”

Such a strong leaning in one political direction has colored the way the news gets reported. “It took all of twenty years for the stories on the front pages of the nation’s major newspapers to go from being descriptive to being analytic and interpretive, a shift that began in 1954 and was completed by 1974. Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunt gave this shift the justification is needed: By reporting his invented accusations of communism, reporters were amplifying his charges. The lessons many (liberal) journalists learned from the episode was that it was important not just to report the facts but to interpret them. That this interpretation would inevitably have a liberal bent was not the goal so much as it was a byproduct of their sociological make up.”

Batya Ungar-Sargon reports that as far back as 1963 perceptive people in the industry were troubled by the trend. “The shift from description to interpretation was not without its critics—including on the left. James S. Pope of Louisville’s liberal Courier-Journal decried the ‘Frankensteinish’ copy that intermingled the ‘writers personal notions’ with the facts. And John Oakes, the editorial page editor of the New York Times, wrote a letter in 1963 to his cousin and Times publisher, Punch Sulzberger, decrying the shift. He felt that the news side was encroaching on his territory by becoming increasingly opinionated: ‘I suppose I am butting my head against a stone wall; but again I feel I must call your attention to the editorialization in the news columns, which in my view is steadily eroding the Times’ reputation for objective news reporting.’ He was ignored.”

Of course the editorialization and slanting of the news have grown much worse since then. As recently as maybe eight years ago I subscribed to the New York Times but gave it up because too much of the reporting had become blatantly biased.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 16, 2021 at 4:29 AM

Great Plains ladies’ tresses orchid

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November in Austin is prime time for Great Plains ladies’ tresses orchids (Spiranthes magnicamporum), so on the first day of the month I hied me over to a property a few miles from home where I’ve been finding the species for the past decade. After wandering around for a while I thought I’d failed, as has happened in lean years. Eventually I came across exactly one orchid, and it turned my failure to success. (On the way back I found three more orchids in a small area but they were shorter and grew in places where portraits would have included background clutter.) The right vantage point revealed a tiny spider:


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Here are two related thoughts from approximately 1700 years apart.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” — Juvenal. English translations have included “Who will watch the watchmen?” and “Who will guard the guards themselves?” You could add current relevance with “Who will be in charge of the people who are in charge?” or “Who will police the police?” or “Who will fact-check the fact checkers?”

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” — James Madison in Federalist Papers, No. 51 (1788).

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 12, 2021 at 4:40 AM

Sunflowers from behind

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You could say I’m behind in my pictures of Helianthus annuus, the common sunflower. From the Arbor Walk Pond on October 8th, here are photographs from behind showing sunflowers in two phases. The views resonate with me, so to speak, and a sticky drop confirms that the flower head and the seed head “resinate.”


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Good news from Austin!

Right here in Austin, Texas, some high-minded people devoted to
the pursuit of truth are taking the first steps to found a new university:

  • We’re reclaiming a place in higher education for freedom of inquiry and civil discourse. Our students and faculty will confront the most vexing questions of human life and civil society. We will create a community of conversation grounded in intellectual humility that respects the dignity of each individual and cultivates a passion for truth.
  • The University of Austin is a liberal arts university committed to freedom of inquiry, freedom of conscience, and civil discourse. To maintain these principles, the university is fiercely independent—financially, intellectually, and politically.

You’re welcome to read more. And scroll down to see the well-qualified board of advisors.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 10, 2021 at 4:32 AM

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