Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘lichens

Perhaps pareidolic lichens

with 15 comments

On the grounds of Central City Austin on March 4th I photographed these lichens on a dead branch.
If you’re prone to pareidolia, you might see this as the left profile of some long and scaly creature.


⦹         ⦹         ⦹


Now imagine this scenario. A man is driving a tractor-trailer down a long hill when a woman driving a station wagon goes through a stop sign and crosses his path not far in front of him. The truck driver swerves and tries desperately to avoid a collision, but the station wagon is too close. Immediately after the horrible crash the man runs over and does his best to help the injured. Nevertheless, the woman and one of her three children in the car dies; the other two children are seriously injured but eventually recover. Decades later, the dead woman’s widower, who was elsewhere at the time of the crash, speaks about it repeatedly. Sometimes he intimates, and other times says outright, that the truck driver had been drinking and killed his wife and daughter. The widower never mentions that his wife drove through a stop sign into the path of the tractor-trailer coming down a long hill, nor that authorities who investigated the collision found that the truck driver had done nothing wrong and didn’t charge him with any offense.

What do you say? Did the widower act honorably?
If you were the truck driver or one of his family members, how would you feel about the widower’s claims?

Take a moment to think how you would answer those questions,
then scroll down for all the details of this true story.



The driver of the truck in the 1972 collision was Curtis C. Dunn. The driver of the station wagon was Neilia Biden. According to a January 25, 2019, article in Politico by Michael Kruse:

The truck carrying corncobs broadsided the Bidens’ white Chevrolet station wagon returning from a trip to pick the family Christmas tree. It sheared off the left rear wheel and drove the back door into the back seat and pushed the car some 150 feet into a thicket of evergreens. Neilia Biden, 30, and Naomi “Amy” Biden, 13 months, were dead on arrival at the hospital. Joseph “Beau” Biden III, 3, had a slew of broken bones, and Robert Hunter “Hunt” Biden, 2, had head injuries that doctors feared might be permanent.

After September 11, 2001, Joe Biden claimed empathy with the victims of that day’s terrorist attacks by referring to his losses in the 1972 accident. “It was an errant driver who stopped to drink instead of drive and hit—a tractor-trailer—hit my children and my wife and killed them.” In 2007, he similarly said: “A tractor-trailer, a guy who allegedly — and I never pursued it — drank his lunch instead of eating his lunch, broadsided my family and killed my wife instantly and killed my daughter instantly and hospitalized my two sons.” Here’s what the Politico article said about that:

The problem was it wasn’t true. The driver of the truck, Curtis C. Dunn of Pennsylvania, was not charged with drunk driving. He wasn’t charged with anything. The accident was an accident, and though the police file no longer exists, coverage in the newspapers at the time made it clear that fault was not in question. For whatever reason, Neilia Biden, who was holding the baby, ended up in the right of way of Dunn’s truck coming down a long hill.

“She had a stop sign. The truck driver did not,” Jerome Herlihy told me. He’s a retired judge who then was a deputy attorney general and once was a neighbor to Biden and remains friendly. A pal of Biden at the time asked Herlihy “to go out to the state police troop where the driver of the other vehicle was to make sure everything was going all right,” and so he did. “In the end,” Herlihy said, “I concurred in their decision that there was no fault on his part.”

As a 2008 article in Delaware’s Newark Post reported:

Dunn died in 1999, but his daughter says she’s fed up with Biden publicly mischaracterizing him as having been drunk when the accident occurred.

According to Delaware Superior Court Judge Jerome O. Herlihy, who oversaw the police investigation 36 years ago as chief prosecutor, there is no evidence supporting Biden’s claim.

“The rumor about alcohol being involved by either party, especially the truck driver (Dunn), is incorrect,” Herlihy said recently.

Police determined that Biden’s first wife drove into the path of Dunn’s tractor-trailer, possibly because her head was turned and she didn’t see the oncoming truck.

Dunn, who overturned his rig while swerving to avoid a collision, ran to the wrecked car and was the first to render assistance.

Police filed no charges against Dunn, who at that time lived in North East, Md. with his wife, Ruby, and their seven children.

Biden has been alluding to alcohol being involved in the crash for nearly a decade. During a speech in 2001, Biden told an audience at University of Delaware that a drunken driver crashed into his family.

So much for telling the truth. The articles linked above offer many more details, as does one by Guy Benson from 2019 in Town Hall. A 2020 article by Megan Palin in the U.S. Sun includes many comments by Dunn’s daughter Deborah Criddle, along with photographs showing the Dunn Family and the Biden Family in the relevant decade and later on. A March 16th article by John Soriano in the Federalist originally prompted me to head down the path that became today’s commentary.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2022 at 4:34 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

New Zealand: along the Cathedral Cove Walk

with 43 comments

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.


‡         ‡         ‡


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

Lichens, mosses, and ferns

with 43 comments

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.


⤱          ⤱          ⤱


“…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

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

Lichens on rocks

with 34 comments

At Palmetto State Park on January 29th I took pictures of colorful lichens on rocks.

And here’s a thought for today:
The sincerity of someone’s delusion doesn’t make it any less a delusion. — S.S.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 8, 2021 at 4:32 AM

Ice on lichens on cedar elm

with 44 comments

The branches of cedar elm trees (Ulmus crassifolia) often have flanges and sometimes also lichens on them.
They rarely add ice, but they did on January 10th as snow and sleet came down.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “You will say that I am old and mad, but I answer that there is no better way of keeping sane and free from anxiety than being mad.” — Michelangelo at age 74.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 15, 2021 at 4:24 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

Repeating myself

with 24 comments

Following coastal roads west from Halifax, Nova Scotia, on June 4th, I stopped in the vicinity of Chester to photograph pretty tree reflections in a pond.

Upon climbing back up from the bank of the pond, I noticed the new growth on a nearby evergreen tree.

About half an hour later and further west, I stopped to photograph attractive reflections in another pond.

Upon climbing back up from the bank of that pond, I noticed a nearby tree that had died and was covered with beard lichens.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2018 at 4:32 AM

%d bloggers like this: