Friday, August 13, 2010

PRAIRIE VIEWS

Painted Lady (I think) on purple conflower head,
and so far as I'm concerned,
as pretty a butterfly as…uh, flies.
There's a patch of prairie just up the road from the cottage. You have to look close to see it, and even then I'd guess the majority of folks zooming along on the asphalt merely view the handful of shaggy acres as a glorified weedfield with color—though one man's weeds is often another guy's wildflowers. Especially if that fellow happens to be totin' a camera.
A prairie in bloom is photogenic in every direction—
all you have to do is point and shoot.
For too many days in a row, it's been hot and humid along the river—sweltering, actually, with temperatures in the 90s˚F, and humidity just this side of wringing wet. As uncomfortable as that sounds, the some places feel even worse. I know, because yesterday, at high noon, just after visiting the optometrist again, and receiving another "tweaked" pair of progressive contact lenses for a new tryout, I decided to vent my frustration by shooting things (photographically!) on the prairie.
Bee on three-lobed coneflower.
Purple coneflower…one of my favorites
and a quintessential prairie species.
Rather than belaboring my litany of woes, let's just say that between not being able to see well enough to focus critically, and the fact that from the moment I mushed my way from the parking area to stand in the middle of the prairie, I swear I immediately began melting in place like one of those wicked witches in Wizard of Oz.
A new umbel of Queen's Anne's Lace,
still showing some pink.
Now, my Mama didn't raise no fool…at least not one who requires a terribly excessive amount of discomfort before his common sense kicks in. So before being unceremoniously rendered into a greasy puddle, I hastily revised my photographic plans and bolted for the shade of the truck—where I doffed my sweat-soaked tee-shirt and drank about a half-gallon of water. Rehydrated, I decided I'd perhaps wait for a break in the heatwave before trying an encore. Call me a wuss if it makes your feel better.
This one has me stumped—it looks a bit like vervain,
but I don't think that's correct.
However, before these overcooked days came to pass, and before my vision became professionally messed up by an optimistic optometrist who believes clarity is still just a fitting away, I spent a few evenings at this same prairie seeing and making photos. Since I can't show you what I didn't photograph yesterday, I'll show you what I did capture back then.
Common teasel in bloom.
The prairie has aged a bit (haven't we all!) in just these few weeks. Purple coneflower is now fading. Sunflowers are bigger. But most of the rest of what I saw then is still around, including the butterflies. At least that was my quick take on the situation yesterday, though between the new lenses and the sweat in my eyes, I didn't look long or hard.
Evening sun through big bluestem.
———————

20 comments:

George said...

I don't care when you captured these images, Grizz, just as I don't care when Cezanne painted his landscapes or Proust wrote his novels. These are great shots, and, parenthetically, I'm pleased that your shooting was confined to the camera. I'm sure the ongoing travails with the optometrist are verging on the unbearable. Hang in there, partner, your contributions to our understanding of the natural world are greatly valued.

And I love the butterfly shot. What beautiful patterns and colors!

Jayne said...

Painted Lady indeed! And, looks like the contacts are spot on as your photos are all simply crisp and beautiful! Stay cool and keep the water coming. Have a great weekend on the river.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

These pictures are stunning. I am not sure what lens are tweaked or twitted but whatever you are seeing and capturing in pictures is SO beautiful. AND the fact tat you stood in sweltering heat and humidity for any of it is beyond sacrifice. I salute you!!

I went to a pizza party this evening. A friend picked me up and another drove me home. It was good to be out and about - I was in pain, and I had icy hot pins and needles and numbness but I would have had that just the same at home all alone.
Had my first appointment/eval with the PT earlier, I Like him and hopefully the routine he designs will make a difference. Meanwhile I am managing and amongst the living.

Love you and your great pictures.

Gail
peace and hope.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

George…

This is one of my favorite butterflies, and a favorite butterfly shot—at least of those I've taken so far this season. You gotta love a Painted Lady, right? The colors are just astonishing.

Re. contacts…I go back next Thursday for a another evaluation, at which time we'll fit and order what will be (for me, anyway, because I've had it with the hassle) the final trial lenses, which should be in the following week. Either they'll work or they won't. At this point, I don't care—but I said I'd give it a fair shot and I'll keep my word. If the final lenses correct all the issues, fine; if not, I'll order the single-vision models and correct close-up via readers. Of course that will be another wait, but I know at that point I'll not be seeing double, will be able to focus at all distances, etc.

In the meantime I grumble, whine, and try to endure…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

Thank you. I'm glad you've confirmed my shaky I.D. I really have to do a better job learning the distinguishing subtleties of butterflies.

And just to set the record straight, I made these photos BEFORE my contact lens tribulations began; I wouldn't be able to come close to focusing on stuff like this now.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

What I "tweaked and twittered" while visiting the prairie yesterday was a jug of icewater back in the truck. The I hightailed it for home.

(Actually, my tail was seriously drooping…)

These pix are from an earlier, pre-new-contacts session. So…I'm less the stoic shutterbug, and more the self-preserving wuss.

I'm really glad to hear you're out and about—and that you're about to begin PT. I think both will help. We all should be thankful every day just for waking up, cognizant. What's a bit of endurable, perhaps even manageable pain, for another day of life?

Bernie said...

I love all the pictures of course but am in love with the purple coneflower.....love it.
Hope your eyes are better Grizz and that this last set of contacts will do the trick.
Be well my friend.....:-) Hugs

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

I really like purple coneflower, too. Of all the coneflowers, it is my favorite. I have a small clump in my mostly shady yard, but that's nothing to compare when seen covering acres on the prairie—where the butterflies and bumblebees adore it.

This round of lenses will definitely NOT do the job; in many ways, they're worse than the first ones. But I'll get there sooner or later.

Debbie said...

Thanks for the beautiful photos and an education floral ID, and thanks for the great comment you left on my 'rant'.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Jim - photography is definitely your subject - each picture is a work of art. It all looks so effortless but I know that is not so. I so enjoy your blog - do hope that the heat and humidity on your stretch of river doesn't result in a plague of midges.

Murphyfish said...

Hello Grizz,
some outstanding photos here my good fellow, you do have an eye for the special.
regards,
John

Tramp said...

Your shots really open my eyes to nature. I did another stage of my walk this week (which I hope to get written up soon). Because of you I looked harder at the flowers and butterflies in the meadows I went through.
Feel free to grumble about your vision. I'll listen and sympathize , I'm waiting for my optician to return from holiday and hope he'll be able to see me pretty soon.
Stay cool.
...Tramp

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Debbie…

I'm glad you liked the photos, though I do wish I could I.D. that little purple one.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

I appreciate you nice words re. the photography. I do work at making good shots. But keep in mind, you're seeing only the successful (more or less) shots.

Even though we live by the river, even mosquitoes haven't been much of a bother so far—though we have a few.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Murphyfish…

Thank you. I wish my eyes (well, vision) was working better; I'm missing a lot of good stuff right now. However, I'm glad you liked the pix.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Tramp…

Oh, fear not, my friend…I'm going to grumble and whine and moan about these wretched contacts and how bothersome they are until I get things fixed. Count on it!

If my posts somehow prompted you to look closer at a flower or bug or the markings on a stump or stone, then I'm pleased no end. That's about as good a compliment as I could ever receive. I know that the more you look, the more you'll see of the wonder all around.

I'm looking forward to reading your latest installment detailing your walks…

Joy K. said...

I love the picture of the purple coneflower. The subdued lighting makes it look like it was taking on a cool, soothing, rainy day. We haven't had one of those here in a long time.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Joy K…

Hey, I really appreciate your comment. That purple coneflower shot was one I particularly liked—simply because it was so atypical.

The truth is, it was taken during the same day, and if memory serves, within a minute or two of the second shot (the one with the thistle fluff in the foreground) in the post. The plants were in the shadow of a little honey locust. I saw them sort of tucked in and hidden there, liked the low light and the saturation of colors—and made the shot.

I'm always looking for contrasts, backgrounds, shadows, etc.—something the play my subject against, to make it pop, or add color. In this case, I wanted a cool, low-contrast look to enhance soft petals and enrich the greens and purple, and that almost black portion behind the flowers to set the image off. It's really just a "cloudy day" sort of image—lovely, shadowIess light—I managed to find and take advantage of under bright sun conditions.

Johanna said...

Dalea purpurea (Purple Prairie Clover)?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Johanna…

Ah, ha! I've been hoping someone could set me straight on this one. I'm sure you're right—though some photos show the flower head more a rounded-oblong than cone-shaped, while others look smack on.

Henn's "Wildflowers of Ohio" (2nd Ed.) doesn't list it, neither does my copy of Newcomb's, which is usually reliable when others fail.

A few minutes ago, after reading your comment, I did what I should done have days ago, and that is dug around in the deep closet where I have some 4000 books stored which I haven't yet managed to shelve in my workroom. After finally locating located my copy of "Wildlfowers of the Tallgrass Prairie—Upper Midwest," which I've kept meaning to unearth for months, I found Purple Prairie Clover, though the photo shows the more elongated and less cone-like heads; still, it is obviously the same plant. I see that back then (1989) the plant was called Petalostemon purpureum rather than Dalea purpurea.

Anyway, I'm really grateful you've put a name to this puzzling but lovely little flower for me. There were only a few plants scattered about the prairie patch where I took the photos—or else they were all but done blooming by the time I made this and a couple more images.

Thank you very much for writing.