Covered in coldness
Obscured from view
Layered in lightness
Dazzling and new
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Cold
Sunflowers & stagecoaches? You may be wondering how those two things go together.
Last August we explored the Steens Mountain area by car. Did you know you can drive all the way around this 50-mile long mountain and to its 9,700-foot peak at certain times of the year? The views from up there are breathtaking!
The following pictures are from the dirt road on the east side of Steens Mountain. Common sunflowers, Helianthus annus L., were in full bloom along the road.
As their name implies, common sunflowers are common throughout the conterminous United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. Sunflowers have been introduced in other parts of North America and throughout the world. They occur in a wide variety of habitats including prairies, roadsides, near railroad right-of-ways, savannas, and forest edges.
These leggy plants grow 1.5 to 8+ feet tall and bloom from July through October. Their iconic flowers actually have two kinds of flowers. The yellow “ray” flowers look like petals but each is an individual flower. The “disc” flowers, at the center of the brown head, are usually small. If you magnified your view of the center of the flower, you would see that each of these disc flowers had five petals. The alternate leaves, and the main stem are covered in coarse hair.
Sunflowers are valuable to both wildlife and people. The seeds are sought out by many species of birds. Do you have sunflower seeds from the cultivated variety of sunflower in your bird feeder? If you do, you know how much birds and other wildlife enjoy eating them.
Now on to how this plant is used by humans. Wow! Where do I start?
You have probably munched on sunflower seeds, but did you know the yellow flowers are also edible? They make a colorful addition to a salad.
In July of 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled along the Missouri River in Montana and recorded these observations on sunflowers.
The sunflower is in bloom [NB: Copy for Dr. Barton ] and abundant in the river bottoms. The Indians of the Missouri particularly those who do not cultivate maze make great uce of the seed of this plant for bread, or use it in thickening their soope. they most commonly first parch the seed and then pound them between two smooth stones untill they reduce it to a fine meal. to this they sometimes mearly add a portion of water and drink it in that state, or add a sufficient quantity of marrow grease to reduce it to the consistency of common dough and eate it in that manner. the last composition I think much best and have eat it in that state heartily and think it a pallateable dish.
There are many medicinal uses of this annual plant. Flowers were used for heart problems and in treating burns. Roots were used in treating blisters and snakebites. Native Americans made a leaf tea to treat lung ailments and high fevers. A poultice was applied to snake and spider bites. Seeds were used as diuretics and to help heal coughing.
In addition to the historical usages, sunflowers are used in creating dyes, soap, cattle and chicken feed, and a fine silky fiber, similar to hemp. Sunflower oil is widely consumed in both North America and Europe.
Fun Fact: Some Native Americans believed sunflowers were a symbol of courage. Warriors would carry sunflowers cakes with them into battle. Hunters would sprinkle themselves with sunflower powder to keep their spirits up.
So now you know more about sunflowers, but why is this post called Sunflowers & Stagecoaches? While taking pictures of the sunflowers, I remembered to look for an old stagecoach stop I had seen on a Circling Steens Mountain birding field trip. Ah ha! Found it. See the dark spots in the middle of this photo? Those are the remnants of a stagecoach stop.
Here’s a closer look. The crumbling rock walls are all that’s left of this stop.
In the late 1800s to early 1900s, stagecoach routes crisscrossed the West. On the more heavily traveled routes there were stops every 25 miles or so. Why that distance? That’s about how far a team of horses pulling wagons full of goods and passengers could travel. Their progress was slow due to difficult terrain and weather that could quickly change from scorching heat to bone-chilling cold.
Some of these stations were just for changing horse teams while others had accommodations available for travelers. The stops in Fields and Frenchglen offered more options for weary travelers. One stop near the one pictured above charged 25 cents for overnight lodging and meals. The charge for the care of each horse was an additional 25 cents.
Travel along these stagecoach routes was not fast. For example, the east-west route from Ontario, Oregon to Burns, Oregon took approximately 40 hours. Today that 130-mile route takes 2 hours 12 minutes. But imagine all the sights those early travelers must have seen on those slow journeys…
I saw this marvelous moth near Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. What a beauty! 😀
Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)
Watching & waiting for clouds
Turning the sky into a color collecting kaleidoscope
Expressing their thoughts with fiery punctuation
Or softening their words in pastel tones
Watching & waiting for clouds
Painting the world with their bold thoughts
While gazing at us through eyes lined in brilliance
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC): Waiting
This teepee made from tules is a re-creation of what Native Americans of Central Oregon once used as a home.
Tule bulrushes (pictured below at Hosmer Lake) grow along the shores of lakes, ponds, and waterways.
This plant was used to make teepees, baskets, mats, bedding, footwear, and clothing. Tules were also used medicinally, as a source of food, and in making boats.
is bright bouquets
shining in fading light
warming our souls through the winter
In a black & white world, everything is laid bare for all to see.
A lack of color
Highlights drama in the skies
In brilliant detail
A lack of color
Gives expression to patterns
A lack of color
Reminds us of distant times
Dimming yet dazzling
A lack of color
Brings fading autumn blossoms
Back to vivid life
In a black & white world, the loss of color can often lead to seeing things in a new light.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Monotone
I saw these blazing star beauties at the top of Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon last August. Pilot Butte is an extinct volcano that is a state scenic viewpoint. It’s a great place to visit for a 360 degree high desert view! You can see in the photos that these flowers are growing on cinder rocks. The Sisters volcanic peaks are in the background of the last picture.
Blazing star, Mentzelia laevicaulis, is a native plant that grows along roadsides and on sandy, gravelly, or rocky slopes. This plant has showy star-shaped flowers filled with bunches of yellow stamens. The flowers can measure 5-6 inches across.
They grow 3-6 feet tall and bloom June through September. The rough leaves are gray-green in color. One of their common names is ‘stickleaf’ because the leaves have barbed hairs that stick to clothing, etc.
Native Americans used them medicinally for several ailments. Roots were used in treating earaches, rheumatism and arthritis, and thirst. Fevers, mumps, measles, and smallpox were treated with a root infusion. Root infusions were also used to reduce swelling of bruises. Leaves were boiled and the liquid was used for stomachaches and as a wash for skin conditions.
Blazing star plants range from southern Canada south through the western United States (Zones 9a-11).
They can be grown in gardens from seed or starts. This plant grows well in full sun in gravelly or sandy soils. They require little water and the bright yellow flowers look great in rock gardens.
Blazing stars are biennials or short-lived perennials. They are hardy and deer-resistant. The blossoms are of special value to bees, butterflies, and moths.
Fun fact: The spectacular flowers open mid-morning and stay open throughout the night so they are a favorite with nocturnal pollinators like hawk moths and carpenter bees.
The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Seeing Double. Sometimes two heads are better than one.
With two you can share your wisdom.
With two you can have differences of opinion…
But learn to work together in the right direction.
With two you can brave the elements together.
With two you can reflect the best in each other…
And learn to function as one.
Lens-artists Photo Challenge – Seeing Double
Sometimes I look at layered rock formations and imagine stories within the layers.
This formation at Fort Rock looks like the giant prow of a ship bursting through the cliffs.
A closer look shows where the water levels were before the ship drained the basin.
This jumbled formation at Malheur NWR looks like it was made by a giant who was in a hurry.
But a closer look reveals the perfect spot for great horned owls to raise their young and protect the land.
This Painted Hills formation looks like an immense shark swimming through the hills causing a commotion.
A closer look shows some of the magical green stones left in its wake.
There are stories within the layers that you can learn if you just pause to look and listen.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Layered
Sometimes you get lucky when you’re taking candids of critters. This little burrowing owl gave me a knowing wink right when I took its picture.
We visited the Caswell Sculpture Garden in Troutdale, Oregon a couple days ago. This sculpture of two great blue herons is right by the entrance.
I noticed a movement near the willows right behind this sculpture. I spied a real great blue heron!
This ground squirrel didn’t want me to know where it was hiding its cache. It had so much in its cheek pouches it could barely walk.
These spotted pigs look content in this shot, but one of the piglets had just escaped its enclosure. I scooped it up and returned it to its family.
There are lots of opportunities to take candids of critters right on our property. This morning I was out walking my dogs and I noticed this orange tabby cat. He blended in so well with the plants around him that my dogs didn’t even notice him.
I took this candid shot of my dog, Shelby, relaxing on the window seat. See her ball right next to her head? She is dreaming of when she can play fetch again. 😀
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Candid
This high-flying eagle is in a small museum near Fishing Bridge. It looked so real swooping over our heads.
We saw this pronghorn buck near Mammoth Hot Springs. Most people drove right past him. You have to learn to look for pieces that don’t quite fit into the landscape puzzle to spot wildlife.
This killdeer almost looks like a museum mount but we saw it near Dragon’s Cauldron defending its territory.
This coyote was in the museum at Mammoth Hot Springs. It was an interesting mount. Lots of action.
This raven kept an eye on me when I hiked to Morning Glory Geyser — one of my favorite places in Yellowstone. This raven and a companion had just taken a bath in the hot spring in the background.
This gray wolf rested in the sun at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. Visitors get up close looks at native wildlife and learn what to do to preserve it for future generations.
Even if you don’t have a giant telephoto lens, there are great opportunities to capture furry & feathered frame fillers at Yellowstone.
Tiny pale flowers
Curving fragrant slender stems
I watched one smart squirrel figure out how to get around the “squirrel-proof” cover on this bird feeder. It knocked seeds to the ground and feasted on them. Clever little creature.
I watched squirrels at other feeders here on another day and they gave me quite the scolding. Here’s a short poem I wrote about them.
On a recent trip revisiting Steens Mountain, I thought back on what this place looked like decades before. When I got home, I browsed my photos and realized several pictures I took on this trip were taken in nearly the exact same spot.
Places seem to me to have some kind of memory, in that they activate memory in those who look at them.W. G. Sebald
Some places call you back to them. While revisiting Steens Mountain this summer, I realized it is one of those places for me.
Here are a few “then” and “now” pictures I took of the Steens.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Pick a Place
I’m treasuring Friday flowers with a friend before the weather changes. It was warm and sunny here yesterday but snow is predicted this weekend. The weather in the high desert is always interesting. 😁
Camp Hart Mountain was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and operated from 1937 to 1941. Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge , established in December of 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, helped protect pronghorn antelope.
The CCC crew stationed at Camp Hart Mountain helped with many projects such as building roads, stringing telephone lines, and building new structures. After their work was completed, most of the buildings at the camp were taken down. The building in the distance was the infirmary and it’s the only historical building remaining at this site. There is currently an RV campground located here.
By the way, I worked at Hart Mountain years ago and saw pronghorn regularly. Here’s a story of one such encounter.
In this land, Nature weaves colorful tapestries into the earth and sky
And creates havens for its creatures to pause and rest
In this land, pale sandy deserts settle in some basins
While water collects in others
In this land, mountains tilt and rise above sagebrush plains
Where glacial sculptors carve them into works of art
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Countryside/ Small towns
All About Birds describes this bird as “a handsome, round soccer ball of a bird with a rich gray breast, intricately scaled underparts, and a curious, forward-drooping head plume.” A great description of this bird!
I’m lucky that they are common where I live and sometimes even show up in my garden.
Granny Shot It – BOTD
Magic in the wind
Pushes whirling windmill blades
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Magical
When the flower blossoms, the bee will come.Srikumar Rao
Killdeer in the rushes bordering a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. I assume they have tough feet since we saw them regularly wading into the hot springs in various locations.
Granny Shot It – BOTD
I saw this flying saucer cloud hovering near Steens Mountain a few days ago. I see why lenticular clouds, like this one for example, are often called UFO clouds.
I dug through my archives to find pictures of this mellow fellow we once had as a pet. Calypso Blue was a miniature horse and he measured 32 inches at his withers. He was one of the mellowest horses I ever met. His companion, Scooby, pictured here, was a lot more feisty.
I think I took these photos on the day we bought him. It took a LONG time to brush out that mane and tail.
It’s hard to tell in these photos, but underneath all that mane he had piercing blue eyes. We sold him when we moved. This mellow fellow went to a home with a little girl who showered him with affection.
This post shows peaceful pets at rest in our home. Yes, they can be very active, but these pictures focus on their time asleep.
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.Anatole France
Our cat, Motor, was very happy to see I bought a new dog bed. He was the first to try it out.
In this picture, Motor is doing his best imitation of a waterfall. Kitty can’t bear to watch this cliffhanger.
She likes to sleep on top of the warm computer tower. Sometimes Kitty sleeps so soundly she rolls right off.
This is the expression she gave me when she learned I bought a new camera. I think she was less than thrilled.
Our peaceful pets get along well. Tesla and Kitty sometimes sleep on the same bed.
Kitty is a Pixie-Bob cat. This breed is known for its “dog-like personality.” She’s taking that part a little too seriously in this picture.
Kitty, like other Pixie-Bobs, loves to play fetch. Pixie-Bobs can also be trained to walk on a leash.
Tesla, the dog, gives a big smile as she rests in front of Tesla, the car. Like her namesake, she can run fast and last a long time on a charge.
Our new dog is named “Shelby.” Both of our dogs are rescue dogs. Tesla is in the process of showing Shelby how to be a dog.
After that lesson, she got the hang of it!
I think sometimes the best training is to rest.Cristiano Ronaldo
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Precious Pets