Down on the corner


Yellow flower and seed pod

Flower siblings: This yellow flower and its sibling are thriving on an entrance ramp at the junction of I-530 and South Hazel Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The bloom is advertising for pollination. The seed pod in the lower right, formerly adorned as its colorful sibling, has completed that mission. The next trick is to allow Mother Nature to distribute the seeds to precipitate a repeat performance. Neighbors to these posies include a colony of American Lotus plants in an adjacent pond.

American Lotus bloom

Click on the lotus for a bigger picture and the start of this story

At the southeast corner of the junction of I-530 and South Hazel Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, there’s a neighborhood uninhabited with homo sapiens. People are a little further south. The neighborhood I reference includes a perennial colony of American Lotus (AKA water lily) plants. I have watched the colony for a few years. I decided last year to photograph it.

When I did, I discovered that in that small macro environment, there were a number of small blooming plants growing in the hard pan of the interstate entrance ramp. See more about this corner including a picture of the big lotus on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you look.

I’ll have to hand it to the plants that seem to thrive on the interstate entrance ramp. The ground is hard pan and sloped, conditions not good for retaining moisture. What water they do get is fouled by runoff from the on-ramp which falls way short on the purity index. Here’s a glance at two more of these hardy specimens.

Burred plant

My love of going barefooted began as far back as I can remember. In fact, my feet are bare as I write this missive. One of the hazards of going barefooted was stepping on a cockleburr (our mispronunciation of the pest was “cucklebur”). This resident of the on-ramp is not a “cuckleburr,” but it looked enough like one to make my foot twinge. It is in all likelihood a clover head.

Small daisies

A kind reader once informed me as to the correct identification of these micro-daisies. Unfortunately, that information escapes me, so they are once again “little bitty daisies.” The real thing is about a half-inch across the beam. The top one is at full glory. The rest are going into the “gone to seed” mode.

Crepe myrtle blooms

My friend Dick Warriner advised me earlier this week that his crepe myrtle was resplendent following a rain and a good time to shoot. Unfortunately, the alligators at my ankles prevented the wet shoot. Even dry, they still look good.

crepe myrtle close up

Here are more blooms from the same tree up close and personal.

Suspicions confirmed:

Given the name of this post, one would expect this video to be included. The picture quality is lacking, but it is the original guys. Bring your nickel, tap your feet.

I believe I can say without reservation, there are millions of these special little communities similar to the one we explored today. Perhaps I’ll discover a few more. Better yet, perhaps you will.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/

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Things are about to get ugly


American lotus bloom

Enjoy it while it lasts. This American Lotus (aka “water lily”) will drop its petals and assume its more pedestrian and less attractive role as a seed pod in just a day or two. From there, it’s all down hill. Life expectancy, as ordained for the lotus, from this point is short. The process has already started as evidenced by the brown freckles of a few of the petals. Yesterday, the complexion was probably pristine.

As I considered the pitifully short active life cycle of the American Lotus, (erroneously aka water-lily), my recall mechanism took me back to 1971. It was then that the late Jerry Reed, a talented and energetic musician and actor, came forth with a country classic, When you’re hot, you’re hot. At one point in the song, as he rolls out his story of success and a quick plummet therefrom, Jerry bemoans hearing a judge say “Ninety-days, Jerry-boy, when you’re hot, you’re hot.” Few terms could better describe the life and times of the American Lotus.

American lotus

Click on the lotus for more blooms and comments

In these parts, the Lotus begins to seriously stir around the first of June when buds first appear. A few days later, the lotus engine is running at full-throttle.  Huge, absolutely spectacular blossoms spring forth from the buds. Once that happens, think belt-fed buds and blooms. The colony is hey-look-me-over, bloom-city on steroids. Enjoy it while you can. It won’t last long. Ninety days later, the colony looks like a lotus slum.

However, you can enjoy a really up-close and personal shot of a peaked-out lotus and its attendant bug, plus a couple of additional lotus pictures on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you look. It’s worth the trip.

Meanwhile back at the pond, precious few weeks after the lotus onslaught, the plant goes about its serious intent of surviving to make a repeat performance the next year. So far, so good. Ancient Egyptians revered the lotus seed as a sacred object and included them in the booty with which they populated their most highfalutin tombs. Horticulturists say they have planted and raised plants from these seeds. Needless to say, the lotus family has perfected the art of survival.

Lotus colony with blooms and seed pods

Here’s how the neighborhood looks after Mother Nature’s survival instinct overwhelms the lotus beauty contest. What were once blooms are now seed pods. The blooms you see aren’t far behind.

When the lotus nursery mode kicks in, petals drop and the once spectacular bloom becomes a gnarled and pimpled seed pod. It gets worse. The seed pod opens and it appears like a dastardly space monster with a dozen or so beady eyes staring ray-gun holes in your soul — in preparation of having you for dessert — after it just ate Kansas City. Not to fear, they are just seeds in a lowly pod. And they are edible, as are the roots.

Lotus seed pods

This is not a space monster and it is OK for children and the elderly to view. It is a humble lotus pod showing you it’s edible seeds. Yes, I have not sampled the lotus largesse. The green pods will soon become like the brown ones.

As the neighborhood goes downhill, the once impressive "lily-pad" lotus leaves, having done their duty to nourish the new generation commit hair-kari in favor of the new generation.

As the neighborhood goes downhill, the once impressive “lily-pad” lotus leaves, having done their duty to nourish the new generation commit hara-kari in favor of the new generation. The leaf to the right has completed its grisly task. The one in the center is a work-in-progress.

Whodathunk that a plant could give us a lesson in humility. We rise, we fall, we come back. Thank you, nelumbo lutea.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

PS: These images are from my favorite lotus colony in a pond at south of the junction of South Hazel Street and I-530 in my headquarters city, Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

They ain’t lilies


Water lily bloom and bud

This is not really a water lily. It is an American Lotus, with a scientific name of Nelumbo lutea. However, since I am a card-carrying denizen of L.A. (lower Arkansas), I am yielding to the lexicon of the land and will refer to the poesy as a “lilly.” You will see more of it.

Water lily bloom with a bug

Click on the flower to see and read more at Corndancer dot Com

The home waters for this water lily are at one of the busiest intersections in this neck of the woods. I’m hoping this post gets a lot of local heads nodding, “Yep, ah’ve seen them flares,” but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. The jury is still out.

Regardless of notice or scorn, the flowers are interesting. I shot all of the pictures for this story in three days. During those three days I noticed an accelerated life cycle. I shot the picture above on day one, not knowing then that I was at a starting point.

Before we go too much further, may I suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com and see more pictures and how this story started. We’ll wait here.

Water lilies

This is the same bud and same flower as the top picture in different light and a slightly different angle, a little less than 24 hours later. That’s a lot of life cycle in a short period of time. Notice the stem of the former bloom in the fold of the leaf. Scroll up for comparison

Overnight, the big bloom dropped its leaves and the bud bloomed. The dots at the top of what’s left of the big flower are seeds which comprise the next generation. The next step is below. The yellow pistil (I’m recalling biology 101A here, so forgive me if I have er, ah . . . misnomer-ed), will turn green, enlarge and disgorge its cargo of seeds for the next generation. Perhaps this is not terribly strange since enlarging is common among soon-to-bear-young creatures. All the while, the pod, nee pistil, is facing the sun. That changes too.

Enlarged water lily seed pod

A few days ago, this was a yellow pistil. Is it now a s “seed pod?” Who knows? It still has a drop of water clinging from an overnight thunderstorm.

In the final stage, the pod is empty, dried, turned brown, and returned to the “full upright position.” Once this happens, interior decorators cast their eyes on the spent pods to include in their collections of dried sticks and leaves. If you’ve ever wondered what those weird looking things were, now you know. American Lotus skeletons.

Water lily seed pod

The final stage. It’s mission accomplished, the plant will finally wither and drop into the pond with its ancestors. That is, unless an enterprising supplier to the interior decoration business harvests it first.

According to what I can find out, most of the plant is edible, particularly the tubers in the plant’s root system. The same source says that the plants were originally confined to the southeastern lower 48 and that as Indians migrated north, they brought the plants with them as a source of food.

Grasshopper on water lily

It is said that migrating Indians brought the lilies from the southeastern lower 48 and a source of food. This grasshopper looks convinced.

October 15, 2012 – See how the pond has changed

Since I see the pond at least twice daily, most of the time more than that, I can observe subtle changes which in aggregate a month later are not subtle, but dramatic. The lilies are gone. All of the giant leaves, save a scant few, have withered and turned brown. Most have fallen into the pond.

The ubiquitous yellow flowers of a southeast Arkansas fall have replaced the lilies at the edges of the pond. This afternoon, the pond was like a mirror and the mid-October afternoon sun bathed the pond in irresistible light. I captured three images to show what most people miss when driving past the pond.

Pond at I-530 and Hazel

You can see how close I-530 is the pond. Not much more than “rock-throwing” distance. The diagonal in the middle of the picture is the access road from the 1-530 / Hazel Street exchange.

Traffic sign reflecting in pond

This is the pond and sign reflection from the fence down. The colors of fall are developing, emphasized by the golden light of a setting sun. A few remaining lily leaves are on their last legs in the background along the fence.

truck from interstate highway reflecting in a pond

Since still photography does not record sound, I’ll have to fill you in. Despite the serene appearance, the pond is inundated with interstate highway noise, which is the price we pay for convenient transportation modes. This 18-wheeler reflected in the pond as it sped by. Finally got it timed right after about 40 shots.

Yellow wild flowers

A sure sign that fall and cool, crisp mornings are not far away.

While one plant is biting the big one, others, harbingers of coming fall, are peaking out. Here in LA, the roadways burst with yellow flowers in the waning weeks of summer.

rainbow at the end of a road

A few seconds later, the rainstorm obliterated the rainbow. This is the only shot.

Last week, a good friend called to advise me of a huge rainbow on the east side of our fair city. I beat a path to what I figured would be the best place to shoot it. The accompanying storm was crashing headlong to the same location. I arrived a few seconds before the storm and squeezed off one barely acceptable shot before the storm obliterated the rainbow. I am grateful for that one shot.

And I am grateful you dropped by.

Thanks,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html