The Landmark


Seemingly plucked from the hills of Santorini before being plunked down on the edge of Trinity Bay, the white-washed compound glistens in early autumn light. Not everyone fishing or sailing the waters off Anahuac knows the name of the property owner, but as a fisherman cleaning his catch pointed out, “It makes for a great landmark. It’s sure enough better than the water tower.”

The compound, a weekend retreat for Houston general contractor George Pontikes Jr. and his wife Laura, includes a similarly-styled great house, a guest house, and various amenities, in addition to the chapel pictured above.

The similarity to houses on the Greek islands is understandable, given that the owner is the son of George Pontikes Sr. and the grandson of Angelos Konstantine Pontikes, who emigrated from Nauplion, Greece. Angelos K. Pontikes began as a home builder; both his son and grandson George Jr. followed in his footsteps.

While exploring the area on a Sunday afternoon, a friend and I mistook the private chapel for a public church and drove through the open gate. With parts of the compound still under construction, we realized our mistake fairly quickly, but I captured this image of the chapel before we left: as simple and beautiful as any white flower blossoming against the sky.



Summer’s Mixed Bouquets

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) & horsemint (Monarda citriodora)
Matagorda County

As much as I enjoy fields overspread with blocks of single floral colors or the detailed portraits of individual flowers, there’s something about a mix of wild summer blooms that always makes me smile.

Each of these photos was taken within twenty feet of a Texas farm-to-market road — proof that native wildflowers can be as accessible as they are beautiful.

Engelmann’s daisy (Engelmannia peristenia) & Maroon fire-wheel (Gaillardia amblyodon)
Gillespie County
Texas bluebell (Eustoma exaltatum) & Hooker’s eryngo (Eryngium hookeri)
Brazoria County
Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) & Maroon fire-wheel (Gaillardia amblyodon)
Kerr county
Horsemint (Monarda citriodora) & Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella)
Gonzales County
Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) & American basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus)
Galveston County


Comments always are welcome.


Catching a Wave

Velvetweed (Oenothera curtiflora)

When wave after wave of rain causes streets and freeways in Houston to resemble the shallow, near-shore waves of Galveston Island beachfronts, someone inevitably turns to humor to deal with the situation, calling out “Surf’s up!” to anyone within hearing distance.

After last night’s storms, the ‘surf’ certainly is up here today, but a drier sort of wave offers its own delights. Tall and gangly, velvetweed grows across Texas; I’ve found it at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge, in the Rockport City Cemetery, along the banks of the Medina river, and on the shores of Tres Palacios bay. This past weekend, I found some west of Gonzales, on a road that cuts through the historic El Capote ranch.

Often as ‘weedy’ as its name, velvetweed can be easy to overlook, but this lovely wave caught my eye,  and invited my attention to surf along its curves.


Comments always are welcome.