Saturday, April 17, 2010

Texas Wildflower

I have no idea what this is but it is very unusual. When I get home I'll look it up in my flower books. I like the stars within stars.
Later: According to my Wildflowers of Texas book it is Antelope Horn, a member of the Milkweed family.
Blue Bonnets in the background. I forget what the red one is named. Another to look up when we get home.
Later: This one is Texas Paintbrush.
Not a wildflower but a wild creature. In this photo he's trying to scare me because I'm too close for his taste. I wasn't frightened by his display but it made a great photo.


We are in Texas visiting our son and daughter-in-law. Quite a difference in climate. Diane just got a call from her sister saying it is snowing in Woodstock, Ontario and a friend in the Adirondacks wrote yesterday to say it was snowing there. Here there are roses. The backyard has red and pink roses. The one above (against a cedar tree trunk) is a bloom on  a tree rose that is about 8 feet tall. Out front there is a yellow rose.

One of my aims on this visit is to shoot some wild flowers. It shouldn't be too hard. Apparently this is the height of wildflower season and they are all over. I will post a photo or two later in the visit. Meanwhile, if you're among those up North, look at the rose above and ignore the snow.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bloodroot Revisited

Today I went back to Stone Valley to check on the bloodroot. They still were not open so I walked down the trail for a while and photographed some other things, waterfalls, rock textures and the like. While I was walking the trail the sun broke through and when I got back by the bloodroot patches at the trail's start the blooms were beginning to open.

I posted some bloodroot photos last year in May and because I am photographing very close with extension tubes the pictures make them look large. For those who have never seen them I should mention that the actual bloom is only 1 to 1¼ inches across. The leaf (one per plant) comes up on a separate stem from the blossom and is folded around the bud and bud stem. They unfold later. It gets its name from the red sap that comes from the stem if you pick it, which you shouldn't do. Like trillium they are endangered plants. I found this one peeking out from under a log.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Early Spring

Just a quick post to add a photo of some Bloodroot at Stone Valley. I heard on the radio yesterday that they were up but none were actually open this morning. I shot a few photos of buds and will check on them again on the weekend.

Would Ansel Adams Like Digital Photography?

That question has arisen repeatedly over the years in my discussions with fellow photographers. I've always held that he'd not only like it, he'd be on the leading edge of digital just as he was with chemical photography in its day. In an interview that Jim Hughes conducted with Ansel in 1979, when digital was still mostly theoretical, Ansel pretty much confirmed what I have always thought. He'd love it. Read excepts from the interview on today's T.O.P. blog post entitled "Ansel Redux".

Monday, April 05, 2010

Mystery No More

I planted my peas today. I have been finding crocus in places where I don't recall planting any and today I found 7 in the vegetable garden where I know I didn't plant any. At the same time the ones I did plant aren't coming up. I attribute it to our farmer chipmunks. Every year we have clumps of sunflowers, a dozen or more seeds in a tight cluster, pop up in odd places throughout the garden. The chipmunks gather up seeds beneath the feeders then dash off with their cheeks bulging to stash them. Apparently they are burying them in the garden. In past years this activity has been limited to sunflower seeds but now the crocus that I planted in the bed by the front gate are missing but there are crocus in the raised garden beds. As a further tip off, one of the relocated crocus was right next to a chipmunk burrow. I've marked them with bamboo stakes and after they've stopped blooming I'll move them back to the flower bed and scatter some moth balls around them. Moth balls deter rabbits. I'm hoping that will work for chipmunks too.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Way We Weren't

In this morning’s local paper (Watertown Daily Times) there was an article from the Washington Post about the anger of some over the health care law and it quoted one of the opponents, Hugh Pearson of Bakersfield, who expressed a desire to return to life the way he remembers it in the 1950s. He remembers the America of the ‘50s as an “Ozzie & Harriet” and “Leave it to Beaver” existence. “Now we have MTV, expose-yourself stuff, and we have no morality left, not even by legislators” he said. Apparently He'd like to go back to the '50s.

Mr. Pearson’s comments brought me back to the 50s too but I don’t remember them the same as he did. I’m 65, a tad older than Hugh and I remember the 50s well. I remember poverty. Not everyone lived in nice middle class neighborhoods with a station wagon in the garage. I remember that people did “fool around” and get divorced. Although we didn’t know it at the time even “Ike” had a mistress. People lived together in the ‘50s without getting married. We had a neighbor who had a “live-in housekeeper”. I remember backroom abortions, with women dying from botched procedures. I remember being whacked with a ruler in grade school when I didn’t write my letters and numbers to look just like the ones posted on green cards over the blackboard. I remember being told that the Russians could drop a nuclear bomb at any time and that we needed a bomb shelter in the backyard to escape being vaporized. I remember during the McCarthy hearings the teacher reading a list of the sorts of things commie's say and telling us that if we hear Mom or Dad saying anything like that we should turn them in. I remember discrimination, not just toward blacks for whom there was a long list of epithets not just the “N” word. Italians, Irish, Polish, Jewish and native Americans all were treated to derogatory references, not to mention gays, women and Catholics. If you were anything but white, male, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant you were less than equal. The “Ozzie & Harriet “ life was a very closed community.

The 50s was a warm fuzzy time for those who were part of the minority that lived that existence but for the rest of America it was a very different time. It is easy to think of the “Ozzie & Harriet” existence being all of America in the 50s because that is what the media showed. TV was new and what it showed was the way we liked to think of ourselves and the country. The rest was ignored, the poverty, the discrimination, the hatred. We now live in a time when those things are not ignored. Get over the 50s you remember Hugh. For most people it really wasn’t like that.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

I always count the real start of spring from when the earliest spring flowers bloom. It's a bit early this year and this flower is a surprise. It is one of two crocus I found in front of the fence (between the front fence and the road). The reason it is a surprise is that I don't recall ever planting crocus there. I moved that fence back from the road about 6 feet 9-10 years ago and I suppose it is possible that I had planted some inside the old fence line and forgotten about them but that would have been at least 15 years ago. So have they been blooming outside the fence all these years and I never noticed?  I can't imagine that they would have lain dormant that long.

The crocus and other spring flowers inside the fence aren't blooming yet. The crocus inside the fence hasn't even broken through the soil. They must think spring isn't here yet. BTW While photographing this one and it's cohort I spotted two more outside the fence that will be blooming in a few days.