These pine catkins are the number two spring troublemakers in our neighborhood. They play second fiddle only to oak catkins in producing seeming tons of pollen. Between the two they coat any and everything with their yellow spoor. You know it is spring in LA when you use your windshield wipers to clean a dry windshield of pollen before you dare leave your driveway. The yellow peril dies a natural death in ten days or so — or until a toad-strangler rain comes along and cleanses the atmosphere. The effluent of these rains is a yellowish primordial soup gurgling toward street drains.
Troublemakers, Wild Ones and Cultured Treasures
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Pine Buff, Arkansas
Occasionally we need a reminder of the miraculous circumstances under our feet or at least within easy eyesight. You see some cool stuff and save gas and time. Probably the best time to begin the process is early spring when things are waking up. A lot of what is there to see is in plain sight, but it's mighty tiny — an underfoot Lilliputian colony of sorts. The intrepid photographer needs a low stool or the willingness to get some good old soil on the knees. In either case, the glimpse is worth it.
A Cluster of Detail
This cluster is smaller than the eraser end on a common pencil, yet the details are amazing — a miniscule bonanza of detail.
Just inches away, this tiny yellow flower is dazzling, despite the fact that it is probably not much more than one-eighth inch in diameter.
A Weaver's Pollen Magnet
This stem, gone to seed, was web encapsulated by an unknown weaver. The web became a pollen magnet thanks to our pine and oak donors.
A Master's Handiwork
Across from the Chez Dempsey is the Chez Rubenstein where Ms. Kitty reigns as our neighborhood master gardener (for real). Her healthy azaleas attest to her calling.
The Dogwood Flower
Ms. Kitty’s dogwoods are bloomin’ fools. She’s doing something right because other neighborhood dogwood trees became kindling a year or so back.
Another View of the Dogwood Flower
Looking at the backside of a front-lit bloom in another of Ms. Kitty’s phalanx of dogwoods.
Worn but Beautiful
Also from Ms. Kitty’s botanical garden are these tree flowers, looking worse for wear but still offering up great visual interest.
Same Tree Different Look
Also from Ms. Kitty’s botanical garden.
The Last of the Jonquils
You guessed it. Just about the last surviving 2014 jonquils are in the Ms. Kitty botanical garden. Backlighting isolates the blooms from their background, along with a gossamer web decorated with granules of pollen.
None of these images were recorded more than 60 feet from the Chez Dempsey. Granted, not everyone has a master gardener for a neighbor. Nevertheless, the object lesson is look around for resident miracles. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Nikon D300, ISO 400, all; Jeep pulling boy, AF-S VR Nikkor 18-200 f3.5-5.6, firstname.lastname@example.org; Machine gun jeep, same lens, 1/250@f8; Harley, Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6 EX DC HSM, email@example.com. Post processed Photoshop CS5 Extended and Genuine Fractals Print Pro.
See more of the neighborhood jungle at
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,
including dandelions, spring beauties, more azaleas, jonquils and the dreaded oak catkins. There will also be a link to a 26-picture gallery of all pix shot for this story, but not necessarily selected to show in the article.