79 thoughts on “Autumn Abstraction: The Grasses

  1. Sumptuous layers and well seen, Linda. It looks like one of Nature’s flags waving in the sea breeze.

    Is Brazoria a two-part refuge? I looked at the map, Google of course, and one part seems to be a wildlife preserve while the other has no designation.

    1. I like the image of a flag. It reminds me of the time I first heard the phrase “flag pond” and assumed it meant a pond with a flagpole next to it, rather than a pond filled with the sort of iris known as blue flags.

      Brazoria’s not two parts, but it is quite large, and different areas are dedicated to different uses. In this screenshot of the map, the little tangle of white lines just above Salt Lake is the road into the Discovery Center and the auto tour route. Various hiking trails thread through that area, too.

      Most of the northern half is bluestem prairie; where County Road 208 makes that 90 degree bend is where I documented the land’s recovery after a prescribed burn. It’s easy to pick out the more permanent wetlands. Those areas are mostly inaccessible, reserved for the waterfowl and other creatures, although in season there are areas designated for alligator and waterfowl hunting.

      Finally, that long, straight stretch of water cutting through diagonally between Salt Lake and Christmas Bay is the Intracoastal Waterway. If there aren’t any birds around, you always can watch the barges.

      Just across Christmas Bay is the Kelly Hamby Nature Trail, where Steve collected many of the fine images he’s been showing.

        1. I remembered “Bringing Up Baby,” but I’d never heard the term MacGuffin. That’s an interesting history: from Arthurian legend to Monty Python. Down in the footnotes, I found a cross reference to another great word: ‘unobtainium.’

      1. What a fantastic resource that whole area is for you. Much like I do with Quabbin, I’d think you would be there as often as possible. But, of course, you have all of Texas to explore with its many environments.

        1. Indeed — and even with the running I do, I realized recently that I’ve photographed in only three of our eleven (or ten, or twelve) ecoregions. I need to find a way to travel a little farther afield.

            1. Theoretically, yes. Realistically, not so much, at least for me, since the real issues are time and money. Besides — when I looked at the offering, I noticed they specify no standing on top of the van. How am I supposed to get a good look across the fields at the sandhill cranes?

            2. No standing on the top? Ansel would be very disappointed.
              Yeah, I really didn’t think you’d jump at it, but it is a Mercedes. All the comforts of home though. I’ve been driving either a minivan or suv for years and can sleep in the back if necessary but generally prefer my own bed with my doggie next to me.

    1. In this case, I could have my cake and see it, too! I made a sudden, impulsive decision to forgo the beach for Brazoria last weekend, and I’m glad I did. I’ve learned how rapidly things can change in nature, and in a week, this particular view might no longer exist.

  2. Well done with this one. It is such a graphic display of nature’s diversity, in the most fundamental way. I REALLY like this picture!

    1. I was especially pleased with it myself, David. Thanks for those kind words; I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it, too. I’ve made it a bit of a project this year to find examples of our autumn color — so different from the brilliant trees farther north — and this suited my purpose perfectly.

    1. I didn’t know the name Eric Carle. When I looked him up and found his site, I happened to click the link for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and laughed. There’s Amherst, again. I just came across a favorite musician’s connection to Amherst last night, and of course there’s the Emily Dickinson museum there. All roads may not lead to Amherst, but a good number of them do.

        1. Yes, and a lot of those roads have been traveled and photographed by a certain Amherstian.

          Here’s my latest bit of Amherst trivia. Do you recognize this tree? It certainly seems to bear some resemblance to this one. The match seems likely to me because of where I found the photo of the kids — at the end of a video featuring a musician with Amherst roots who’s playing fiddlesticks on Mount Pollux. Amherst Chinese supplied the chopsticks.

          1. Is Peter the Amherst musician you mentioned. I’ve not heard him before but now will check out his channel. Thanks. Sadly, Amherst Chinese is no more. The owner ran afoul with his payroll taxes. It has been replaced by another. Amherst Chinese was a fantastic restaurant. I’ve never eaten at one in a more populous city, like Chinatown in NYC, but it was the best of any I have visited. We miss it. Absolutely the best Hot and Sour soup.
            That could be the same tree, but it looks a bit smaller. Sadly, also, that tree is now gone as well. Inner rot and other attackers made it unsafe and the town removed it. I believe a few new “benches” were made from parts of the trunk.
            Guilty as charged, Ma’am.

            1. Yes, he is. He’s quite a musician. I originally found him while looking for information about shape note singing. Apparently there’s a group in Amherst dedicated to that, too. It’s one of those instances where I suspect knowing you has made me more sensitive to references to Amherst, but it certainly seems to be a happening place.

            2. We aren’t called the Happy Valley fer nuthin’. I am kind of out of the loop with all that is happening here but there is a lot of diversity not only in people’s choices for how to live their lives but also what to do with those lives. A lot of imagination in the artists here. I guess it started with Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost.

        1. I’d never heard of the book, but when I looked it up online, I recognized the image of the caterpillar. After reading an article about it on the NPR site, I think I want to read the book, too. I missed to many of the so-called classics because of my age. By the time the hungry caterpillar made his appearance in 1969, I was an adult and my childrens’ boks days were done.

    1. I thought of Rothko myself, Derrick, and wondered if anyone else would be reminded of his work. I’m glad you did, and I’m especially happy you think he would approve. I’m certainly glad that you approve.

    1. Wasn’t that a Dylan song — “Layer, Lady, Layer”? It’s probably one of my most intentional photos, as well. I set out to find abstract autumn color, and it turns out that I did. Now this Brazoria/Galveston dweller needs to infuse some meaning into the name ‘Austin.’

    1. And here are two more words: thank you! I really was happy with this one. Everything was just right: the light, the grasses beginning to turn colors, the blue sky reflected in the water. It had a lovely autumnal feel.

    1. One thing spring and autumn seem to have in common is how quickly things can change. I’ve been watching this spot for several weeks, wondering if everything would come together, and the conditions have been right for everything to grow and ripen at the same time. All the rain we’ve had provided that deep, blue water — I couldn’t have been happier.

    1. Our autumn’s aren’t quite as dramatic as areas where the brilliantly colored trees predominate, but there still are signs of the season’s turning that appeal. I’m glad this arrangement of colors appealed to you — it certainly pleased me.

    1. Actually, all of those plants are growing on land. A combination of extraordinarily high tides and a great deal of rainfall upstream has raised the water level, covering the mudflats and lower-growing plants. That combination leads to that wonderfully clean line between the water and the plants, creating the illusion that the grasses are living in a more watery world than they actually are. With a strong north wind, that water could drop in two days, and the illusion would be gone.

      1. Mmm, perhaps… Or it may be that it’s also a manifestation of the trouble we’ve been having up here on the Great Lakes for a(t least a) couple of years now. High-water levels downstream, the St. Laurence at Montréal in particular, is raising water levels farther up. The Canadian Arctic is also experiencing rising sea-levels and melting permafrost. But you don’t hear Politicians talking about that, do you?

        1. No, this is a quite normal phenomenon. Here on the coast, our tides are wind-driven. On a E/S wind, they rise, and on a W/N wind, they fall — sometimes so much that the only water in Clear Lake is in the channels that have been dredged. Our normal tidal range is about a foot and a half, and it’s the wind and rain that make the difference. Believe me — every sailor around here knows that. Anyone with a six-foot or deeper draft on their boat knows there are times in winter when they’ll not be getting out of the marina.

          1. Ah… So, water is literally pushed in or pulled out by the wind? Very interesting! But assuming that if the Lake/ Marsh get a bit of a water change with these tides and rainfall, I can’t help but think that overall it’s a good thing?: )

            1. Yes: pushed and pulled by rainfall, tides, and wind. It’s an extremely complex and dynamic system, since on top of all that the salinity of the Gulf of Mexico waters and the fresh waters of the rivers that empty into the Gulf also are in conflict. The shrimpers and fishermen probably are most aware of that aspect of the bay’s life, since fish will move according to increasing or decreasing salinity levels. During Hurricane Harvey’s flooding, the Bay nearly emptied of certain fish like redfish and trout; all the fresh water pouring down sent them toward the Gulf, where the salinity levels were higher.

              The “flushing” of the bays that takes place as the waters move in and out is a very good thing. Its effects vary from bay to bay, since bays along the Texas coast show different normal saline levels, respond differently to storms, and so on.

              I thought of you today when the latest NWS coastal flood advisory was issued. It says:

              “Elevated tide levels and moderate to strong rip currents expected
              through early Friday morning…

              A Coastal Flood Advisory indicates that onshore winds and tides
              will combine to generate flooding of low areas along the shore.”

              One more little tidbit: about four days prior to Hurricane Ike’s landfall, the sky was blue and the wind was calm. It couldn’t have been nicer weather. But those of us who were watching saw that the water was noticeably and silently rising: up, up, up. It was a sign of the forces at work hundreds of miles away — and nature’s way of saying, “Yo. It’s evacuation time.”

    1. And spinach lasagna, at that! I was thrilled to find these contrasting colors, but I noticed that the little bluestem’s starting to turn, and it won’t be that much longer until they begin to glow in the sunlight.

      Speaking of glowing in the sunlight, it’s about time to pull out the blaze orange. Whitetail and duck seasons start November 2, and the line between private and public land isn’t always clear. I first started wearing it in the Wildlife Management Areas in Arkansas, but I only discovered this year that it’s required by Texas statute in certain circumstances.

  3. Your photo speaks to ecological niches, Linda, with each grass responding the the water, soil, and temperature of it’s particular location. –Curt

    1. I suspect it speaks to the knowledge and skill of the refuge managers, too. It’s fascinating to watch the various techniques being employed throughout the year — everything from fire to mowing to plowing up desiccated pond bottoms. Just when I think, “This time they’ve really messed up,” I turn around and find a scene like this that proves they know what they’re doing.

  4. What a great shot. Isn’t it interesting the patterns Mother Nature makes for us? Of course, we have to open our eyes to really see them, but capturing them with a camera reveals the unusual sights we all take for granted.

    Your photo is almost like an abstract painting.

    1. Your comment reminded me of a favorite line from Dorothea Lange: “The camera is an instrument that teaches people to see without a camera.” Isn’t that just the truth? I wasn’t certain at first, but now I’m convinced that I see the world differently, and occasionally more clearly, than I did before I took up phoography.

      I have two more autumn abstractions coming up — both with autumn color, but from quite different Texas environments.

      1. I Definitely think I see everything everywhere as though through the eyes of a photographer now. I was standing in the hospital ward looking out at a construction site only 2 days ago (yes, another trip to the hospital :) ) and thinking how I would photograph the workmen and from what angle on Wednesday afternoon. Even coming home in a taxi on Thursday, I was watching the late afternoon light change across the sky and wondering what was showing above my hilltop (in terms of a photographic composition) LOL. I suspect you might be the same.

        1. I recognize the phenomenon you’re talking about — but not because I do it ‘photographically.’ I tend to keep scanning the metaphorical horizon for blog topics, and I’m often composing new pieces in my head while I go about my daily life. It seems like that ought to be a transferable skill, so I might start doing it with photography some day.

    1. I am, too. Scenes like this are one reason it’s worth returning to a place through all of its seasons — even when conditions don’t appear to be propitious. When I left home on this morning, the skies were cloudy and gray, it was windy, and I was two days post-dental surgery; I certainly was tempted to stay home. But I didn’t, and I certainly was glad in the end. Lesson learned — again!

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