Lagniappe for Lagniappe

Home of Ferdinand Lindheimer ~ Father of Texas Botany
New Braunfels, Texas

In 2017, as my interest in native plants and prairies began to develop, I created this second blog as a place to share images of the flowers, grasses, and creatures that increasingly intrigued me. Meant only as ‘lagniappe’ — a little something extra for myself and for interested readers of The Task at Hand — it became much more: a tool of discovery; a way to hone photographic skills; and a way to satisfy my own curiosity about the new worlds I’d begun to encounter.

When I announced my intention to begin a new blog to readers of The Task at Hand, one commenter wondered how maintaining two blogs would go for me. How it’s gone, at least from my perspective, is wonderfully well. It’s been a good bit of work –especially if you include travel time! — but the knowledge I’ve gained from my readers and from others has equaled the enjoyment my explorations have brought.

What I never expected was that Lagniappe would be gifted some lagniappe of its own. When I learned this blog would receive the Native Plant Society of Texas’s Digital Media Award for 2021, it would be an understatement to say I was shocked.  Only the arrival of my plaque** made the award seem tangible and real.

During the awards ceremony on October 9, another surprise was yet to come. A yearly photo contest invites entrants to submit one photo from each of Texas’s twelve ecoregions. In 2019, I sumitted three photos; last year, I submitted four. This year, having traveled more extensively, I was able to submit photos from five regions; of those five, four were declared winners.

Once the awards ceremony was over and the excitement had died down, a friend asked if I was going to set any new goals for myself. Laughing, I told her I planned only to continue as I have in the past: traveling the state, learning more about our native plants, and becoming more skilled as a photographer. Then, I paused. “Maybe next year,” I said, “I’ll be able to submit photos from seven ecoregions.”


Comments always are welcome.
** Observant readers may have noticed that the title on the plaque isn’t “Lagniappe,” but the blog’s tagline. A new, ‘edited’ plaque is on its way, and I’ll update the image when it arrives.

79 thoughts on “Lagniappe for Lagniappe

  1. In the five years you’ve been native-planting (mostly minus the planting) your progress has been unmistakable. The digital media award and the four regional photographs make up for what you were “robbed” of last year. “Images and Incidentals” wouldn’t have been at all bad as a main title rather than a subtitle. May more voyages lead to more incidental images.

    Of the many Texas places mentioned in the song you linked to, one was Hico. By coincidence, when we attended the annual meeting of the National Association of Scholars in downtown Austin on Saturday, the person sitting next to my left turned out to be from Hico. (I’d been mentally pronouncing the first syllable “He,” as if the name were Spanish.)

    1. I’d never heard of Hico, and when I looked for it on the map I had to expand the view considerably to find a town name I was familiar with. Every now and then, I’m reminded just how large Texas is, and that town name served as a reminder.

      I really do need to post the Chapman’s orchid photo, along with a few from this year. As for being ‘robbed,’ I’d say it was more a matter of different ways of seeing. I loved that photo; the judges didn’t. No matter. I’ll stick with Georgia O’Keeffe and say, “I still like the way I see things best.” I really liked this year’s photo that didn’t win,too, but it was an abstract, and that doesn’t always play so well.

    1. The error on the plaque made me laugh. After all, ‘perfection’ is hard to find in nature, too. It is a beautifully done piece, and of course I was pleased that it’s made of wood. As for the rest of it, that quotation from Chuck Close that we both like came to mind after all the winning was done: “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

    1. It’s a lovely award, and, as befits a group dedicated to nature, the plaque itself is lovely: no plastic or metal’s involved — there’s only lovely wood and beautiful craftsmanship. Of course, I do have that fondness for wood!

    1. Thanks, Bob. The sense of surprise still hasn’t entirely faded. As I heard one Texas woman say to another in a checkout line after hearing what must have been a surprising story, “Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!”

    1. I’ve thought a lot recently about our conversations — so many years ago, now — about slow blogging. It seems that many of those insights are applicable to both words and images, and to a willingness to “keep on keeping on” for the love of the art. You’ve experienced some of that with your career as a film critic. Who knows where we’ll be in another five years?

    1. In the same way, your wonderful travelogues just keep piling up the destinations for my photo-taking, Pit. You and Mary do a fine job of showing off our state to your readers in other countries, not to mention to those of us who actually live here.

    1. As do I, Tina. Who knows? This may be the year I actually get to that mythical place called Austin. I finally edged as close as Bastrop a week or so ago. Can Lady Bird’s special place and Balcones be far behind?

    1. Thanks so much, babsje. Had it not been for the flowers, I wouldn’t have been drawn so completely into the world of the birds, insects, and other creatures who live among them. The interconnections are increasingly obvious, and just as pleasing: like the interconnections among us bloggers.

    1. I’m so pleased you stopped by Ellen; thank you for your support. Your own pairings of words and images always delight me; a little ‘like’ on one of your entries always has deeper appreciation behind it than just an easy click.

    1. Asking for a ‘favorite’ photo’ seems like asking, “Which of your children do you love best?” When people ask, “Which is your favorite flower?” I always say, “The one I’m looking at!”

  2. Hate to say, “I told you so,” but . . . I’m glad you are beginning to receive recognition for your photographic skills. The next goal should be publication. I’d love to see some of your work in Texas Highways and other such magazines, words as well as images. Now that your name is being associated with awards, that should help you get a foot in the door.

    1. I’ve had print articles published and rejected, and I know what that process is like; I’m not quite sure I want to spend the time and energy that’s available to me on submissions. Of course, never say never, and all that. We’ll see.

      Besides: online publication still is publication. One of the caveats for the photo contest was the same as for literary submissions; the photos could not have been previously published, even online. I was lucky my archives are large enough now that I had some photos I’d meant to put on my blog, and hadn’t.

      Beyond that, I had a moment of clarity last night when I came across this line in the website of one of the most accomplished photographers and writers about Texas I know; he said, “My blog is my book.”
      That’s a line worth lifting.

    1. And of course I’ve put your bouquet in a digital Mason jar: a blue one, that shines nicely in the sunlight coming through the kitchen window. The award is great, and your bouquet is great, but best of all has been your company on this little journey — I always look forward to your comments as much as I do to your posts!

  3. Well deserved!

    You summed up why I continue to make an effort (albeit a poor one) to produce a blog of our adventures.

    “it became much more: a tool of discovery; a way to hone photographic skills; and a way to satisfy
    my own curiosity about the new worlds I’d begun to encounter.”

    Thank you so much for sharing the views along your journey.

    1. One of the best things about these blogs of ours is the way they reveal the differences and similarities in our worlds. I’ve been surprised more than a few times that one of ‘our’ plants or birds also is part of your world. Sometimes the species differs, but in the grand scheme of things, that only adds to the interest.

      For some reason, one of my favorite quotations from Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek comes to mind:

      “The world is wilder than [we imagine] in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

      Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”

  4. Oh, Linda, many congratulations on these awards! I can’t think of a soul who deserves them more. I’m thrilled for you and so happy that you shared your good news with us (otherwise, most of us probably wouldn’t have had an inkling!). Isn’t it amazing how something that started so small has blossomed into such an enjoyable and fulfilling sideline?!! You rock, my friend!

    1. I still have enough Garrison Keillor-style midwesterner in me that I considered not posting the news: but I’ve been out of the midwest long enough, and was excited enough, that there wasn’t really any question that I would. The experience has been an affirmation of something I’ve always believed: excellence for its own sake is the point. Honors, awards, and recognition are — well, lagniappe.

  5. Congratulations Linda! It was so much fun meeting you. Your blog is an inspiration for both the photography and the prose. I’m following!

    1. It was fun, Kim! Despite my pre-presentation nerves, things went well enough, and having some winning photos was quite a surprise. Now, I’m ready to get back into what passes for a routine in my life, and see what else I can find to please you!

    1. My gracious. How nice of you to stop by, Daniel. I hope all’s well in your world. It won’t be all that long before you’ll have some of the ice and snow that you photograph so beautifully, and that you were kind enough to share with me in the past. I checked Flickr to see if there might be some new photos there, but the last I found were from the hike near the Granite Park Chalet. Perhaps you’ve moved to Instagram, or Facebook. I’m not on either of those: a decision that has some good points despite occasional frustrations.

      My best to you! It pleases me to know you’re still ‘out there,’ and reading.

  6. I have been quite impressed with your photography skills and I am so pleased to learn that you have been rewarded for your hard work. The photos that won are exceptional in my book. And, I think the plaque that you received is beautiful. Congratulations, Linda. I look forward to seeing many more of your exquisite photographs.

    1. In 1971 — fifty years ago! — Rod Stewart had a popular song titled “Every Picture Tells a Story.” I liked the song, and I think about it from time to time. When I look at the winning photos, I can remember every spot where the image was made, not to mention the weather at the time, the reason I was there, and anything else of interest that was going on. In short: every picture tells a story, and I really enjoy sharing them with you, even when I don’t go into all of the details. When the day comes that I can’t get out and about any longer, I’ll have some great memories of all these places — as long as my memory holds out!

  7. And so well deserved, Linda. It takes so much dedication bordering on the wildly excessive to achieve such high levels of excellence, showing the Texan beauty and variations. Congratulations.

    1. That made me laugh, Gerard. ‘Wildly excessive’ probably is the perfect description. Some of my friends have gotten used to conversations like this:

      Friend: “We’re going to the farmers’ market on Sunday. They’re giving away samples of ethnic foods, and some craft vendors will be there. Want to come?”

      Me: “I’ll pass this time. I’m going to run over to east Texas to see what might still be blooming at Sandylands.”

      Multiply that times a whole lot of weekends, and you have it. There are weeks when I’m glad to head back to work, so I can rest up! It pleases me beyond words that you enjoy some of the results.

  8. Yay!!! A few posts ago you mentioned to someone that you were just a beginner at photography. I think you are past that phase, I thought so before this, and obviously the society thinks so as well. Of course it is a lifelong learning process so the “beginner” in us continues on. Congratulations. You’ve mentioned not having wall space for photographs but I do hope some will be found for that plaque! I would think there just might be another one or two to come.
    You’ve taken something that seemed interesting and elevated it to passion level.

    1. I certainly have found a spot for the plaque. When the ‘edited’ version arrives, I might put them side by side as a reminder that, when mistakes happen, they often can be corrected. You’d really enjoy seeing it. The wood is lovely, and it’s very well made. The routed design and lettering are especially well done.

      Some time ago — maybe even three or four years — I bit on an offer from the Great Courses people, and purchased their Masters of Photography series and Fundamentals of Photography. I’ve never opened them, but I do believe it’s time. The Fundamentals course is taught by Joel Sartore, whose work I came to know through his association with Tom Parker (the Kansas photographer who did the series called “The Way We Worked”). I bought a couple of other courses from Creative Live: an intro to Lightroom and one on macro photography. When I looked just now, I laughed. The title of the macro course is “The Art of Seeing.”

      1. Seeing photographically is an art. Photography can be an art so the title is apt. I hope you enjoy them. I have a few courses I have bought but not looked at too. I’ve resolved not to buy any others until I watch the ones I have. Guess I won’t be buying any more. :) At first I thought the award was for a particular post “Images and Incidentals” but your mention of a mistake makes me think they got the name of your blog incorrect and that’s where the editing comes in. A search appears to confirm that.

          1. I’m chuckling. That’s why I left that explanatory note at the bottom of the blog. I wondered if part of the reason ‘Lagniappe’ didn’t get used as the title was that someone wasn’t familiar with the word. No matter. The new plaque will come, and I may even display them both together!

    1. Thank you, Derrick. What Jackie grows, you photograph. Here, what nature grows, I photograph. We live in somewhat different worlds, but I suspect the pleasure is the same — and what fun it is to share that pleasure.

  9. Congratulations, Linda. It’s rewarding when a personal project blossoms into a work of lasting impact. I know you weren’t seeking recognition when you set out to learn about native plants and photography but you deserve all the accolades that come your way.

    1. It’s interesting to think about other times when a chance encounter or one-off event led to immersion in a new world. From Liberia to Berkeley and a new career is one example. Sailing’s another.

      I’d forgotten the beginning of my involvement with photography so completely I didn’t even mention it when I made my presentation at the awards ceremony. After beginning The Task at Hand, every time I needed a photo for illustration I used a service — I think it was iStock. I finally tired of paying for the use of images and decided I’d provide my own. The rest, as they say, is history!

  10. How delightful! And well deserved.
    The plaque is gorgeous ( and it better go up!)
    My favorite picture is the tree on the plains.
    I think I need Dillard’s quote on a poster on my wall. You wander not only in nature but in the most interesting literary pieces…and remember them ( that’s getting to be the difficult part1)
    Congrats (from my hideout in bookland instead of blogland )

    1. Of course the plaque is on full display — right next to Dixie Rose’s terracotta pawprint and just under Debbie Little-Wilson’s print of “Saint Helen Bonham: Protector of Email.” It’s a lovely thing, and sits quite nicely on its teak shelf.

      I like that photo of the tree. I’ve not done many landscapes, but I thought that one worked. I probably will begin trying more, even without a wide-angle lens. We’ll see what happens. That photo was taken on what I think is part of the El Capote Ranch. German geologist/botanist Ferdinand Roemer stayed there while he was traveling and collecting in Texas (1845-1847). I’ve been considering following his path across the state, comparing his notes to what’s here today. Again, we’ll see.

      I’m glad to see you pop up. I figured you were deep into pre-pre-holiday, given the complexities of ordering and shipping these days. The jack-o-lanterns are swinging from the trees at the house down the road, just like always. We can’t count on much, but we can count on that family.

  11. Congratulations on a well-deserved award! I thoroughly enjoy your posts about native Texas plants, so this is very happy news.

    1. It’s been great fun engaging in ‘compare and contrast’ with you, Ann — both in terms of plants and in terms of quite different photographic techniques. If I put as much thought into my photos as you put into your garden, I know I’ll keep progressing.

      1. It’s fun for me too – and just at the moment I’m grinning at the idea of you ‘doing a little squealing’ at the award announcement – pure joy to hear, hehe!

  12. What a wonderful surprise, Linda. Congratulations on well-deserved awards. Your work is so beautiful and interesting and inspiring. And your surprise and joy is infectious! I’m jumping up and down for you!

    1. As I told a friend recently, one advantage of a virtual awards ceremony is that I got to do a little squealing of my own when the winners of the photo contest were announced. If I’d been sitting in the middle of a room filled with actual people, I would have had to behave myself!

      You’re comments pleased me so much. I hope I can find even more that’s beautiful and interesting for you in the coming months.

      1. You just keep doing what you do. You have a keen eye for the beautiful and the unusual. That all makes it naturally interesting.

    1. There are so many places in Texas that I’ve yet to see, and I intend to reach at least a few of them in the coming year. Of course, no place ever is the same, so there’s value in return trips to familiar areas. More or less rain, unexpected freezes (!) and those mysterious changes that no one can predict or really understand means there’s always something new to see–at least, for those willing to look.

  13. I love your “small travels,” a phrase I mean in the most complimentary terms, around the state and the region. After decades of propelling myself across continents and oceans, I am seeing the delight and satisfaction of getting to know a smaller slice of the world. You have mastered that, and combined with your fine photography, you have created something that is indeed prize-worthy!

    1. What lovely, complimentary words, Lex. As much as I’ve envied your travels, I’ve come to appreciate in new ways the variety that’s available here. Of course, Texas is so large that traveling it could take a lifetime. I need to stop going east and southwest and head north and west in the state. Who knows what I’ll find!

  14. I’m glad to see that other people see what we already know – you are fabulous! What a wonderful honor! I feel as proud as if I’d had anything to do with it

    1. But you did have something to do with it — a good bit, as a matter of fact. I’ve always understood my blog entries as ‘step 1.’ The second step is the response of readers, and the back-and-forthing in the comments section. I like the interaction as much as anything, and your comments always are interesting!

  15. Linda, you’re an accomplished photographer and an ardent naturalist. Congratulations on these achievements. I moved back to P.R. so here I am, but not blogging. I really like what this blog has become.

    1. Maria, thank you so much for stopping by. It’s good to see you, and to know where you are. I miss your blog, but I trust that you’ve found new ways to enjoy and share the natural world. When I began this blog, I didn’t have any purpose for it besides sharing a few photos, but it certainly has become a learning tool for me, both in terms of photography and in terms of the flora and fauna of my area, and I’m glad that others enjoy it, too.

      1. I might start soon though. I invested too much time on it, and now I realize there are plants that are exclusively tropical, so I can share those with you all.

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