Our Glorious Grasses ~ Gulf Muhly on a Less Airy Day

In my previous post, I mentioned that two common names for Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) are ‘hair grass’ and ‘hair-awn muhly.’ Both refer to the light and delicate appearance of the plant: especially its tendency to blow about in the breeze.

Everyone can have a bad hair day, of course, and this ‘hair grass’ is no exception. When it’s been awash in fog long enough for droplets of water to weigh down its apparent weightlessness, the plant becomes attractive in a different way.

Both photos were taken on the same October morning at the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge in Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains. In the first image, near-zero visibility fog meant very little light, and another common name, ‘purple muhly,’ applied. In the second photo, the fog had begun to lift, and the grass took on its more usual color.


Comments always are welcome.

59 thoughts on “Our Glorious Grasses ~ Gulf Muhly on a Less Airy Day

    1. I learned an important lesson that morning. At first, I was completely miffed by the fog. I’d gone to the mountains for landscape views, and the whole time I was there fog was more or less present. While I was grumbling around the parking lot, I finally decided to give in to reality, get my macro lens, and do what I could until the fog lifted. These photos were the result. Every time I look at them, I laugh.

    1. Thanks, Lavinia. Sometimes luck plays a role, as it did with the lavender photo. Having an ‘echo’ of the primary branch in the background really pleased me.

    1. Aren’t they pretty? Even in sunlight, this grass can take on different shades, but the difference was pronounced in the fog. Camera settings can make a difference, too. I went back and looked, and found the lavender settings were f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 800, and the pinkish was f/2.8, 1/800, ISO 640. There was no rationale — I just was messing around!

    1. You and I have a couple of things in common. We both love “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.” If the drops are dew rather than rain, there’s nothing wrong with that. The sparkle’s the same, and they’re all delightful.

  1. Isn’t the Queen a great place to stay? Were you too late for the hummingbirds? My wife and I stayed there in the summer of 2010.

    Oh, and I love the photo’s. Fog always makes me a bit sorry when I’m out for photo’s… But some of my best shots have come with the fog!

    1. Odd as it may seem to you, I didn’t know that hummingbirds were a standard attraction there. I’d gone for the history and the autumn color; the masses of birds were a surprise. The Lodge was nice, but if I ever get back that way I’ll stay in Mena instead, at a B&B I really enjoyed — provided they’re still in business.

      The only thing I don’t like about fog is having to drive in it. There have been times when I’ve started for the refuge (or even Galveston) despite the fog, and regretted it. On the other hand, maybe every writer should drive in fog from time to time. E.L. Doctorow once said, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

    1. The first photo especially does have the look of ice, doesn’t it? I’m just as glad our cold front wasn’t ‘that’ cold, although when the wind blew in, I started sneezing. It’s almost time for the Ashe juniper to start causing Ashe-choos, so that north wind might have brought a little pollen. It’s another sign of the season!

    1. That first photo’s a good example of your Point #17 — to look for ‘echos’ of a primary image. On that trip I was carrying your list of tips with me, and I consciously tried to create that effect. Once I saw it on the computer, I was more than pleased.

    1. I like the way the weight of the dew drops creates those curves, too. It amazes me how the same plant can take on such a different appearance, depending on conditions. There’s just no end to the delights.

    1. There’s grass, and then there’s Grass. This is some of the most elegant I’ve seen, and if it hadn’t been for the fog, I probably would have missed it. It was planted in a bed next to a parking lot, and when I sat down on the steps to ponder my options, there it was. It’s a great memory, that’s for sure.

  2. A very attractive grass indeed, Linda. Beautiful photos of it too, especially the lovely soft mauve tones of the first image.

    1. Mauve! I’ve been calling it lavender, but mauve is good, too. It allows for that hint of pink that’s almost visible. It was interesting to see such spring-like colors in the fall. I’d gone to the Arkansas mountains for traditional fall colors — the reds, yellows, and oranges of the trees — and I ended up with these as a bonus!

    1. How kind, Becky. Here’s a little secret: sometimes my photos amaze me, too. I suppose that’s part of the learning process — not just learning how to push buttons on the camera, but learning how to see.

  3. Beaded with dew, jeweled with dew — either will do. Sometimes I’m convinced that what sets us apart from the animal kingdom is our ability to appreciate the natural beauty around us. Where we would stop say, “Oh, lovely, could it speak, a deer would more likely say, “Oh, lunch!”

    1. You just reminded me of one of my absolutely favorite quotations. I don’t know its original source, but I laugh every time I come across it: “The best thing about working with plants is, if you have a really bad day, you can go home and eat a salad.”

    1. It’s color and airiness do suggest delicacy, but in truth it’s a hearty prairie plant. It seems to have a mind of its own, though. Its blooms can vary from scant to — well, to what I saw this year. What a treat it was!

  4. I love that last photo!

    I’ve always been drawn to the things morning dew and fog can do to the natural world. Little jewels everywhere.

    1. That photo you like has such pale pinks and greens it reminds me of the watermelon glass I love so much. I’ve sent away all but a set of goblets, but I really enjoy using them.

      Spider webs certainly profit from dew, not to mention flowers. I’ve never seen a butterfly covered in dew, but they surely must be around. I’d love to get a photo of that.

    1. Whether you call it purple, or mauve, or lilac, or lavender, it is a beautiful color. I was pleased that the green stem stood out a bit, and that there turned out to be a hint of green in the background, as well. I’m so glad you like it!

  5. I love how changing weather conditions can so alter the look of the grass, and fog has always had a way of creating very appealing scenes. And that purple color is fantastic. I can’t say my beard enjoys being out on those types of mornings as it begins to look and feel like the grass, but getting photos like these would make it worth it.

    1. Now that’s something that’s never occurred to me: that a beard could collect dew as easily as any other part of nature! I have had frosted eyelashes, though; that’s somewhat akin to your phenomenon — and of course I’ve seen those photos of the arctic explorers and such with frozen eyebrows, lashes, and beards.

      You’re sure right about different conditions contributing to different images. Just the addition of a little extra light turned this lavender image into the pinker second one. I like them both, but agree that the ‘purple haze’ in the first is special.

    1. I love Arkansas. I’ve been there three times now, and if I could choose only one state to travel to again (apart from Texas) that would be the one. There’s a lot of territory I haven’t explored, and besides — they have waterfalls!

  6. (Back from traveling and attempting to catch up.)

    Your three “grassy” posts are wonderful! An expanse of pink Muhly grass in the morning/evening light can be quite impressive.

    The dew holding the stems nice and still for you was a touch of genius on your part.

    1. I was pleased to find the Gulf muhly so expansive at Attwater. It certainly is beautiful in landscapes, but there was something about the casual and random nature of its appearance on the prairie that was even more appealing.

      As for those dew-laden stems, I’ve found that plants sometimes respond like people. If you ask nicely, they’re willing to do any number of things for you!

    1. That’s some color, isn’t it? I suppose there was some way that the heavy fog was picking up and intensifying the color, but it truly was as though the air itself had become lavender.

  7. The first picture looks like you had an ice storm, Linda! I do love the detail you’ve captured here — those dew drops look like tiny crystal orbs!

    1. I’d far rather photograph dew than ice; there’s no question about that. Or at least if I’m going to have the chance to photograph ice, I’d rather do it with a warm house to come back to — no more repeats of last February’s freeze, thank you very much.

      I’ve always liked sparkly things, starting with my mother’s jewelry when I was a wee thing. These drops do look like little jewels; they just aren’t as permanent as the pieces of Mom’s jewelry I still have.

  8. It’s nice to see that you do get dew on occasion, even if from fog rather than the lifting of moisture from the warm ground to the cool air. Yesterday was very foggy here with gentle mist-like rain most of the day but an occasional downpour to punctuate it. Unfortunately the fog has gone with the wind that we are receiving today.
    The two shots are so different. The first expresses a gentleness as the grass leans with the dew’s weight while the second appears strong and vibrant.

    1. This past week has been ghastly. We’ve had such foggy mornings that it’s cut my work day by hours. It’s never a pretty fog like yours, either; instead, it’s the proverbial wet blanket. This isn’t home-grown fog, anyway. In the post I mentioned that I took these photos in Arkansas, in the Ouachita Mountains. That was pretty fog, despite the fact that even as it lifted it made mountain driving a little stressful.

      I especially like the fact that the photos were taken at the same spot, and roughly at the same time, except that the fog was lifting when I took the second. The added light let the natural pink of the muhly shine through.

        1. Not to worry. Once I’ve fallen behind in reading blogs, getting caught up can lead to an occasional miss of details, too. I’m just happy to see you back with us!

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