The color purple

Thistles, horsemint and nightshade on embankment (June 2011).

When I dragged the tree trunk and limbs to the cow tank embankment, I discovered the color purple in three flowering plants: thistle, horsemint and nightshade. The horsemint is clustered together in the center-right of the photograph and resembles a spindle. The nightshade is less prominent and has a star-shaped flower.  (Click the photo to enlarge and see detail.)

The star of nightshade (June 2011).

Emily Dickinson upon thistle (June 2011).

Bees collect pollen upon the thistle.  A few grasshoppers look on, ready to fly when I wade into the grass.  The embankment stands to the northwest of the cow tank or pond.

I have a predilection to call these runoff water ponds, “cow tanks,” from my background in San Saba, Texas.  I remember a cow tank I once swam in with my cousins.  We swam and got our feet muddy at the edges of the cow tank on the Hollingshead place near Mullin, Texas.  When the land was subdivided after my step-grandfather’s death, my step-father made sure that the surveyors included the cow tank within his parcel of 35 acres.  My cousins and I now own the 35 acres and this summer I plan to swim in the cow tank, its waters pure from pasture and rocky cliff runoff.


Filed under Wild Flowers of Texas

6 responses to “The color purple

  1. Kittie Howard

    The color purple and a swim in the “dynamite hole” – what we called our spot – put those together and you know summer’s here. Love it!

    Looks like the partition of the farm went well. We’re still caught up in that. OY!

  2. Erin R.

    Your summer flowers are lovely, Jack. Thank you for sharing them!

  3. Spring paints with such a lovely palette, thanks for capturing it for us and enjoy your swim. We swam in an irrigation pond that had lots of algae and some leaches but at the age of 10 it felt cool and wonderful on a hot day. I’m not so sure I would feel the same today.

  4. Looks like the plant life is doing well there despite the drought!

  5. I’m curious about these “cow tanks”. Are they holes dug in the ground with no liner, or are they lined with rock or other artificial means to stabilize the banks and bottom?

    Love that you have so much green and colorful vegetation despite the dry conditions.

  6. I’ve been arguing and discussing with an Oklahoma friend about the “tank” vs “pond” issue for a while now.

    Growing up in Iowa, holes in the ground with water in them were ponds. They were for fishing or swimming, and the cattle drank from above-ground troughs.

    When I moved to South Texas, I learned the phrase “stock tank” and never, ever heard the word “pond”. Stock tanks were in the ground, and cattle would stand around in them on hot summer days. In drought, they would lose their water, although occasionally you’d see a metal above-ground tank with a windmill.

    Eventually I learned about the huecos, or natural rock hollows, that furnished a supply of trapped rain water to peoples in west Texas for ages. The natural tanks now are contained within Hueco Tanks State Park.

    My theory is that the use of “tanks” for stock ponds in Texas (or at least south and west Texas) is somehow rooted in the rain-dependent huecos of West Texas. But that’s only my theory. I could be all wet! 😉

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