38 thoughts on “Just Before Sunrise

    1. Doesn’t it, though? I’d spotted the splitting bud the night before, and wondered what I’d find in the morning. When I discovered the overnight progress, I took some photos, then made coffee and waited for the unfolding. In the grand scheme of things, waiting fifteen minutes is nothing.

    1. The world truly is wonder-filled. Even the view from your porch proves that. All it takes is a little time and attention, and there they are: ephemeral bits of life, perhaps, but still beautiful.

  1. Delicate images of a delicate flower! I had been really looking forward to find one of these crinkly dress ladies here in Arizona, but so far, no luck, even at the Desert Botanical Gardens which we visited a few days ago, and which were truly amazing. This just might be one of my very favorite flowers. Happy Easter to you, and may us all shine the light, crinkly, prickly, and all.

    1. From all indications, you’ll not find this particular flower in your area. The BONAP map shows Texas as the western extent of its range. On the other hand, there are other other species in the genus that do show up, so happy hunting!

      You might find a different flower with a similar appearance, though. A couple of commenters here mention the Matilija poppy, which certainly is similar, although a side-by-side comparison shows differences in the bloom, the growth pattern, the presence or absence of all that prickliness, and so on. A friend who lives in the California high desert just north of Joshua Tree came across a mass of them a couple of years ago. I hope you can find some.

      1. Interesting. I saw them listed in some of my Arizona wildflower books, and thus I was looking for them. I will go double check the books. I really do love them in the photos.

      2. Ok, so I looked at one of my books, and it does list Bluestem Procklepoppy for Arizona. Latin name here however is Argemone pleiacantha, but it also says that nine species of Argemone grow in Arizona. They say it grows in overgrazed ranchlands, and all parts of it are poisonous, but mourning doves feed on seed. Stems and leaves definitely prickly. We have Mexican Golden poppy blooming now on the hills by the house, but I had not seen the prickly ones.

        1. This may help. The Argemone pleiacantha is a different species from our A. albiflora, but both of them can be known by the common name, bluestem prickly poppy. On the other hand, the literature seems to refer to the one in Arizona as Southwestern prickly poppy. This little Q&A may help. It certainly was useful for me, too.

    1. It reminded me of the flowers on my night-blooming cactus. It’s only bloomed twice, but each time, the buds began to open about ten o’clock, and by 10:30 were fully open. Just before dawn, they started to close, and by the time the sun came up, they already were hanging their little heads. Amazing.

      It does look like wrinkled crepe, doesn’t it? I’ve always been fond of that fabric, too. It always was a hard choice between white crepe and white dotted Swiss.

  2. We think we’re clever at folding, but we can’t hold a patch to Mother Nature. It’s amazing when it’s folded, and even more amazing (and beautiful) when it’s un- . . .

    1. Other good examples that come to mind are the rain lily and milkweed seed pods. I was with a friend yesterday who never had seen milkweed. We went on a little search and found some, including one plant that was developing its pods. It reminded me of how beautifully and economically tucked-in those seeds are. Amazement, indeed.

    1. I’ve learned they’re in the same family (the Papaveraceae) but are different genera. I suppose that makes them cousins. They look quite similar, but the Matilija is classified as either Romneya coulteri or Romneya trichocalyx, and this white prickly poppy is Argemone albiflora.

      It’s confusing and clarifying, all at the same time. They certainly do look similar, and I can imagine being able to paint them provided hours of pleasure.

      It’s interesting that Ojai is very close to the same latitude where my friend who lives near Joshua Tree found them. I’m not sure how I feel about the California poppy beating out the Matilija for the honor of being the California state flower. Having to vote in that contest would be a little like having to choose between our white prickly poppy and bluebonnets for the Texas state flower. The bluebonnet’s so well established now it’s almost impossible to imagine any other flower as “our” flower, but I think the poppy has a lot to commend it.

  3. There’s something so pristine about a white flower, especially one that looks as prickly as this one when in bud form! I’m glad you managed to capture its glory for us — makes for a special Easter, you know. Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Linda!

    1. This morning, I found something that surprised me, and that you might find interesting. A close relative to this flower, California’s Matilija poppy (see how similar it looks?) also is a fire-dependent plant:

      “While easy to grow in the garden, in the nursery, [Matilija poppies] are difficult to propagate. Seeds will not germinate unless they have experienced the flash heat of wild fire. At Tree of Life Nursery, pine needles are ceremoniously burned across the tops of the freshly sown seed flats. Germination usually begins within a few days.”

      I’ve heard of this with certain pine trees, but not a flower. I’m sure there must be more. Now, we just need your poppies to germinate and bloom. Happy Easter season to you, Debbie.

      1. Thank you, Linda, and to you, too! Perhaps I need to take some straw outside and set it on fire so my poppy seeds can watch … and start growing?!?

        1. Uh — I don’t think so! Your poppies are different from the desert poppy that requries fire. You’d probably just upset the neighbors, and end up having to buy new seed in the process!

  4. Striking! These are great photos of an interesting flower – I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. The flower reminds me of a very tall California poppy that grows in a Seattle botanical garden, the Matilija poppy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romneya
    I love the papery, wrinkled white petals, and you photographed the flower in just the right light to show that off. It sounds like the petals were unfolding with the speed of a minute hand on a big clock – just fast enough to see them move.

    1. I had no idea it was going to open so quickly. My best guess that morning was that it might take an hour or two. My estimate was significantly wrong. Maybe I should pay more attention to snails, too.

      I’ve learned a good bit about the Matilija in the past day, including the fact that it’s fire-dependent for germination. (See my comment, just above.) It’s wonderful to ponder.

      The wrinkly-crinkly part is so delightful, and certainly elevates this over some other flowers. I really was happy that I could show that aspect of the plant, especially when it was so fresh and new.

  5. Neat pictures, and that’s some flower! Like some of my family, prickly with a heart of gold. The petals remind me of carefully packing a white dress shirt for a big occasion, and arriving at the hotel with it looking like that.

    1. Prickly with a heart of gold has a lot to commend it: in humans as well as in flowers. In fact, a bit of prickliness in people adds interest. We just have to be willing to hang around long enough to let the personalities unfold.

      It’s been a good long time since I’ve traveled with that kind of wardrobe, but as I recall, tissue paper used to be the favored solution. In fact, it’s still a favored solution if online travel tip sites can be believed. For some reason, that makes me happy. At least some wisdom from the past still is considered valuable.

  6. Of course, I read a lot of history books, and am constantly in awe of what people invented, conceived, thought up, and achieved, in the past.
    The other bit of received wisdom about wrinkled shirts, which turns out to be very true: no matter how rushed you are, or how careful you try to be, it is a Bad Idea to iron it once you’re wearing it. I saw a picture of Mitt Romney doing his cuffs with no problem, but I can personally attest it is a pretty dumb idea for most of us!

    1. Sometimes, steam will work. Hang the shirt in the bathroom, turn on a hot shower, and let it run with the door closed until the room’s full of steam. Busy yourself with some little project until the wrinkles are gone, then bring it out and let it cool. It doesn’t always work — but often it does.

  7. Wow, Linda! I really like that crinkled flower! Amazing that you saw it and were able to wait for it to open!! Great camera angle, that is a very nice picture!!!

    1. Of course you’d notice the camera angle, Judy. Here’s the secret. The flower was a volunteer that was growing atop a 3′ high rock wall. From ground level, I could only shoot up, so I climbed up on the 8″ wide wall, wrapped my left arm around a wrought-iron fence to prevent falling off, and set about trying to figure out which settings would be best. Believe me, I was busy in that fifteen minutes. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and all that. The only problem I had was that my coffee got cold.

      I’m glad you like it!

      1. Ah, this is exactly what I like to call “The Life of the Image”. An image tells a story all on its own, but the life of the image is how you perched precariously on some cliff to get the right angle, or stopped the bus you were on in Egypt to get a shot no one believed was there, or wrapped your arm around an iron fence to keep steady while perched on that wall to get your wrinkled flower. Its all that stuff that went into getting the image and realizing the vision you had for it. That is the fun of it really. These are not flat impersonal things.

        Funny I am writing this because last night I watched the movie LIFE about the relationship between photographer Dennis Stock and up and coming actor James Dean. The photo essay was for the magazine LIFE, but the whole movie was also in the spirit of The Life of the Image…the back story of the stills. In fact that shoot in Indiana was the last time Dean was home and memorialized his family life, his beginnings, and I suppose since he died a mere 7 months later, is his eulogy too.

        1. “The life of the image” is such a great phrase. And you’re right — the image does stand on its own (and should, I think), but there’s always a story lying just under the surface. I’m thinking now about the photos I took in the flooded field filled with spider lilies. Getting nice and close for macro shots brought to mind a word I haven’t considered for years: isometrics.

          You’re right, too, that all of the things that happen before clicking the shutter are part of the fun: and you’re especially right that “these are not flat, impersonal things.” I’ve come to think that taking the time to consider how to shoot even an inanimate object is a way of developing a relationship with an object — turning it from object into subject — and that relationship underlies the image. I’d be willing to bet that’s what makes your bird photography so lively. You clearly take the time to develop that special kind of relationship with them. Of course there’s no reciprocity, but it’s still there, and evident. These are interesting things to ponder.

    1. Nature’s certainly a skilled artist — and prolific, too. We never know, at the beginning of the day, what new works she’ll have hung in her gallery! Thanks so much for your kind words, Dina.

    1. I can’t believe I didn’t think of butterflies, Curt. If it hadn’t been for your comment, I would have missed the resemblance entirely. It’s a wonderful example of what I like to call the suplus of meaning. Words have an ability to say more than we intend — sometimes that causes problems, but just as often it can be good!

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