Destination: Unknown

The good ship Adventure making way

In May 2017, two young brothers, Ollie and Harry Ferguson, launched a plastic pirate ship named Adventure into the North Sea at Peterhead, Scotland. Following the practice of generations of seaside bottle tossers, their ship carried a message asking anyone who found it to record the vessel’s location before returning it to the sea.

Over the course of several months, the boys’ ship visited Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Eventually, the Fergusons were approached by the crew of the Norwegian full-rigged ship Christian Radich, who offered to make needed repairs before carrying Adventure out of the North Sea to explore new waters. After refurbishing the rigging and installing new sails, the Christian Radich headed south with the tiny ship on board; on November 8, Adventure was released a hundred miles off the coast of Mauritania with hopes that she would be carried westward across the Atlantic, to the Americas.

She nearly ran aground in the Cape Verde Islands, but the little ship carried on. In May,  the voyage ended 18.6 miles off the coast of Barbados, where her GPS tracker died after recording 3,773.26 miles of watery travel.

145. Sail the Atlantic 1 (1).JPGAdventure after being re-launched from the Christian Radich

Initially, the plan was to pick up Adventure, recharge the tracker battery, and send her back to sea. Instead, a second family became involved in the launch of a second ship, Adventure 2, from the offshore support vessel Normand Installation. On the day of launch north of Georgetown, Guyana, Adventure 2  was less than a hundred miles from Adventure’s original course. At the time, some thought that ocean currents would carry Adventure 2 into the Caribbean Sea, where the Gulf Stream might catch her and carry her back to the UK. Today that seems possible, since her tracker shows Adventure 2 now moving north along the east coast of Florida.

Pondering the tracks of both Adventures, I couldn’t help remembering an off-handed remark made by a woman with decades of classroom experience. “Teaching is like throwing out words in a bottle,” she said. “Sometimes you’re lucky, and the bottle reaches shore.”

It’s an apt metaphor: one that applies not only to teaching but also to various sorts of creative activity. Few of us send toy pirate ships to sea, but all of us have tossed tiny, message-filled bottles into the currents of today’s great cyber-sea, leaving them to bob, tumble, and drift about until they safely reach shore, are broken and destroyed on the rocks, or disappear over the horizon, never to return.

Regardless of outcome, the first step is an enthusiastic toss seaward. Whatever our bottles’ contents, the words or images they contain will have no opportunity to touch people, clear their vision, educate, or bring comfort until the bottles are set free to travel.

Beyond that, patience is imperative. It takes time for bottles to bob their way to the beaches of the world. It takes time for someone to find them, and there are times when only pure luck allows the message to be plucked from the surf and acknowledged.

Over time, a few of my own metaphorical blog-bottles have reached shore with their contents intact, and I’ve been lucky enough to be contacted by the people who found them. At first, it happened only with words — poetry and prose from this blog —  but, as I’ve learned, it can happen with photographs, too.

Only weeks after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall — also in 2017 — the natural world began to recover. One of the first plants to bloom at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge was Aquatic Milkweed; fresh and undamaged, the almost perfect specimens were a joy to photograph and to share on Lagniappe.

Imagine my surprise when, three years later, the Xerces Society contacted me, requesting permission to use one of my blog-published photos of the milkweed in their new publication titled 100 Plants to Feed the Monarch. After giving permission and signing releases, I moved on to other things and forgot about their inquiry, until a complimentary copy of the published book appeared in my mailbox this month. I was pleased, of course, and also amused. Thanks to the editors’ decision to arrange plants alphabetically, the section devoted to milkweeds begins with my pretty Aquatic Milkweed.

Aquatic Milkweed ~ Asclepias perennis

The request from the Xerces Society was the first of the year, but not the last. In late January, an intern for the group Indiana Phenology contacted me by email, requesting permission to use two of my favorite photos of Ohio Spiderwort in their educational materials. Part of the National Phenology Network, the Indiana group’s mission is the same:

[To bring together] citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators and students of all ages to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the United States. 
Ohio Spiderwort ~ Tradescantia ohiensis

A third and more recent request came last month from Mark Egger, a University of Washington Research Associate and Burke Museum Specialist on Castilleja and related genera.  While researching stem fasciation in Castilleja spp., he’d come across my photos of a delightfully odd Indian paintbrush, and asked if he might use them in a paper.

Now published in Phytoneuron, described as “a venue for digital publication of miscellaneous reports on taxonomy, floristics, and geographical distribution of vascular plants,” Egger’s paper is both understandable and interesting, and I’m pleased to have played a small role in its publication.

I was equally pleased to be introduced to Phytoneuron. Looking through other papers published on the site, I found more than a few names familiar to any Texan interested in native plants: Jason Singhurst, Bill Carr, and W.C. Holmes. There’s some good reading ahead.

Fasciated Indian paintbrush ~ Castilleja indivisa

Each of these requests reinforced one of my most firmly held beliefs: that not every cause has an immediate effect, and not every hour invested brings immediate return. In a world dedicated to instant gratification and marked by the replacement of a 24/7 news cycle with instantaneous rumor, it’s become a decidedly old-fashioned view.

And yet, it’s only a willingness to take the longer, less demanding view of things that allows any of us to keep tossing our bottles or sending our boats into the vast, impersonal sea surrounding us: vessels filled with uniquely personal treasures that one day — some day –will wash onto a receptive shore.


Comments always are welcome.
For more information on the voyage, additional photos, and the real-time tracking map of Adventure2, click here.

126 thoughts on “Destination: Unknown

    1. While I’m hardly the photographer I hope to be some day, I have improved over the years, and I was pleased to receive the requests. Being able to contribute to someone’s research, as well as to the educational programs, was even better. The Xerces Society book is really good. It not only contains information about milkweeds, it has a section devoted to non-milkweed host plants, as well as nectar plants. I’ve already learned some new things from it.

  1. Congratulations on your publications, Linda. This splendid post demonstrates how you have earned it. The use of the boat metaphor – a wonderful story in itself – is so apt.

    1. I’d not heard about the boys and their boats until a few months ago, but the story was so marvelous it deserved to be retold. It also served to recapitulate my earlier post about bottle-tossing, albeit in a different context: photography rather than writing. Sailing, writing, and now photography have been so important in my life; it was great fun to meld them here.

  2. Happy floralistic contribution. WordPress doesn’t recognize floralistic as a real word. When I searched I found floralistics in a few dictionaries, one of which defined it as “a branch of phytogeography that deals with plants and plant groups from the numerical standpoint.” The word seems to be a portmanteau of floral and statistics.

    I remember hearing a long time ago that elementary school teachers on average ended up saying something X times before the class as a whole got it. While I can no longer recall the exact number, my sense is that X was something like 14.

    As a plant puts out tens or hundreds or thousands of seeds in “hopes” that at least one will germinate and reach maturity, so people put forth ideas and creations in hopes they’ll find a good reception somewhere. Some do. Many don’t, and in “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” Thomas Gray imagined an expectation unfulfilled: “Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest.”

    1. No matter the number, repetition’s important in developing any skill or mastering any curriculum. Too many people live by the precept, “If at first you don’t succeed, quit.” You may remember the story behind the aquatic milkweed I included in this post. After photographing the plants along the San Bernard Oak Trail, I was entirely unhappy with the results. What to do? Turn around, drive back the next morning, and try again.

      Your comment about Gray’s “Elegy” brought to mind a passage from Virginia Woolf that I included in a piece still in draft form:

      “”Shakespeare’s sister died young. Alas, she never wrote a word. She lies buried where the ominbuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed.

      But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. If we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down.”

      1. During travels I’ve usually had only a limited time to take pictures at each place. I’ve often then appreciated the luxury of working near home, where we can easily go back to redo something or wait for it to recur to have a second go-round.

        That apt Virginia Woolf passage is new to me. I’m looking forward to finding out how you’ll use it in your piece.

  3. A wonderful story with a delightfully surprising twist—I’d written end, but deleted that, as I’m sure there is more to come! That the sea tale provides a segue to photographs and wild flowers/natives is apt. A perfect start to the day. Congratulations, Linda on well deserved publication and recognition!

    1. There clearly is more to come. Adventure 2 nearly has reached the Florida/Georgia line, and it appears to be experiencing favorable winds and following seas — not to mention the energy of the Gulf stream. I’ve used such trackers for offshore races like the Harvest Moon, but this is even more fun.

      The Xerces book is going to be useful; I especially like the fact that they included range maps for each plant. Beyond that, it tickled me to learn there are people studying fasciation, and in a plant native to our area. If I’d stopped to think about it, I suppose I might have realized it, but there’s a lot those of us outside the academic/professional communities miss. As much as I despise some aspects of online life — and avoid them — there’s a lot that’s of value, and opportunities to learn are at the top of my list.

  4. What a pleasant story. It connects with me on several levels. I love the idea and travels of the Adventures. In my 38 yrs as a teacher and more as a blogger, I tossed uncountable bottles into the sea of confusion and misconception. A few have returned with nice messages.

    Thanks for the post. Keep launching your bottles.

    1. Something funny just occurred to me. Given your love of astronomy, some of your bottles might have been bottle-rockets, shot into the sky instead of being tossed into the sea. Either way, I’m sure you enjoyed the process, and your students profited from it.

      The fun isn’t over, though. Next up? A circumpolar navigation — the details are here. I’ve always been fascinated by the Erebus, and one of my favorite poems is based on their experience. Maybe we should sign on as crew!

  5. This story really made me happy. I’m so pleased for your work to be recognized. The last paragraph was especially important. We just never know how far-reaching any of our actions are.

    1. It is a happy story. When I first read it, I was taken back to my midwestern childhood, and hours spent floating leaf boats down the gutters of the street. I’ll bet you did something similar.

      One thing I try to remember is that the grand gesture isn’t always necessary. Even a small kindness or a passing word of acknowledgement can make a difference in someone’s life — just as a cutting or unkind remark can wound. Paying attention is so important, even — or especially — when we think it isn’t.

  6. This is a really great article and as always, you really tie stories together. Congratulations on having your photos published. I think some of your articles should also be published.

    1. To say I was surprised by the photo requests would be an understatement, but I was pleased. The more I look through the Xerces Society book, the more I like it. There’s a lot of information that’s easily grasped; the use of range maps for each plant is helpful, and there’s a lot of information about insects other than Monarchs. With luck, it will help me sort out the cup plants from the rosinweeds from the sneezeweeds this year.

  7. Several thoughts arise from this most interesting post:
    1. Congratulations on the publications of your most excellent photography. Well-deserved.
    2. I used to be an avid “Geocaching” participant. In that hobby, I “launched” a number of “Travel Bugs,” physical items with a dogtag attached to be picked up and carried to a different Geocache location worldwide. One of my trackables began its journey in Marathon, TX, and travelled over 5000 miles and was last logged from a beach in Turkey. Fun to follow.
    3. We must also keep in mind that negative words and images can have the same unknown impact as your positive ones.

    1. Taking your last point first: of course. There seems to be quite an appetite for negativity these days, and very little consideration for the effects of negativity on society or individuals. As I like to say, words can be windows, words can be walls, or words can be weapons. Being aware of how they’re being used is critical.

      I didn’t know about ‘travel bugs’ in geocaching. My only experience with the practice was finding a metal cache box behind a Santa Fe trail marker out in southwestern Kansas. Looking at the Santa Fe trail site here, I can’t help thinking the one I found was in the string of four sites stretching southwest from Sublette, in the Cimarron grasslands. It would be fun to poke around and find another one or two.

      As pleased as I’ve been to have contributed my photos to the various projects, it’s been equally satisfying to realize how much I’ve learned in a relatively short time: about photography, about the plants, and about Texas. There’s no time to be bored, that’s for sure.

  8. All right. Wowsah time. And congrats, congrats! Love how you started this piece with the little pirate ships and then moved on to how your own work has sailed out into the world. What a great way to start the day. Actually made me a little teary eyed.

    1. You’ve done the same thing with your podcast, Laurie. First came the idea, then the commitment, then the learning curve and success. There’s so much that’s possible these days, and being able to send our work out into the world without a ‘middleman’ is new and exciting. You’ve done it with your books, too, so you well know what it’s like to launch a little boat.

    1. It’s amazing to me, really. Each of these photos was chosen primarily for documentary purposes, of course, and while appealing photos were important, beauty wasn’t the primary concern. Beyond that, the number of people who are going to be interested in fasciated stems of Castilleja is somewhat limited, but the number of people who spot and photograph them’s limited, too, and I’m glad I was one of them.

  9. I’m delighted to hear your story, Linda. It reaffirms my faith in the essential goodness of humankind. Too often I hear the other narrative where photographers have their work poached by people who should know better. Congratulations on the recognition of your outstanding photos and writing which we devoted followers of your blog already knew.

    And you’re absolutely right in advocating for taking the long view of things. It’s the only way we see appreciable progress. Keep up the good effort!

    1. Every now and then I discover one of my photos on sites like Pinterest, but there’s nothing to be done about that. Some people used to lift posts from this blog and republish them in full, but that seems to have slowed down. Reputable publishers get agreement to their terms and a signature. When I had some poems published a few years ago, I had to get permission from the publisher to post one on my blog. It can be a little cumbersome, but it’s important.

      Friends and I talk from time to time about how age and experience make taking that long view easier. We may not have seen it all, but we’ve seen a good bit, and we understand in a new way our grandparents’ conviction that “this, too, shall pass.”

  10. Having an interesting blog adorned with so many beautiful photos must be a rewarding activity. Congratulations on your success with having your pictures chosen for publication, Linda.
    I found the article on the Adventure project very heart-warming as it brought back fond memories of my late brother-in-law who was an avid model shipbuilder. He would have loved to participate with great enthusiasm in the Adventure project.

    1. Thank you for those kind words, Peter. I certainly do enjoy putting my blog entries together. If others enjoy them as well, that only adds to my pleasure.

      Your brother-in-law probably would have enjoyed some of the technical details that I left out of this post. For example, the interior of the pirate ship was filled with a marine urethane foam that resists water, in order to increase buoyancy, and the keel was lengthened to help keep the boat upright. It’s going to be interesting to see how they modify the next boat for another adventure that’s planned for the future. What a learning experience for those boys!

      1. Thank you, Linda! Those details would have been indeed interesting for my brother-in-law. One of these days I will devote a post or two on his model ships.

  11. I loved how you connected the pirate ship story with the metaphor about teachers tossing messages into the sea. If I was still teaching, I think the lesson I would learn from that is that it would behoove me to make sure my lessons are as attractive as toy pirate ships, instead of as commonplace as mere bottles!

    1. Bottle or ship, it’s the message that matters! But sometimes the bottle’s the thing. After a prescribed burn at the Brazoria Refuge, I was walking the fields, documenting some of the results, and I found an obviously old, squatty red glass bottle embossed with ‘Spain’ on the bottom. Who knows what it really is, but I like to think a long ago hurricane sank one of the Spaniards’ ships and sent the bottle landward — a message from the past, so to speak.

  12. I love it that you have been discovered more than once and your work published. Just as many of us have cast our dreams out to sea, so your wondrous photos have been far flung through the blog-us-fear. And then you were found and recognized. Congratulations!

    1. Dor, I laughed at your ‘blog-us-fear’ reference. I’ve never heard that, and while I don’t fear the cybersea or the flotsam and jetsam that’s out there, it sure is an apt name for some of the backwaters.

      In some ways, the selection of these photos was simple enough.The publishers needed particular photos, I had them, and the deal was struck. But, yes: I was pleased to be asked, and I’ll admit that seeing one of my photos in a book rather than online is a different sort of experience.

    1. You know me — I love white flowers, so that milkweed’s one of my favorites. I’m always intrigued by fasciated plants, too, so it was neat to have the Castilleja photos included in Mark Egger’s paper. Just reading that paper was quite an education.

  13. Well, what wonderful news! Congratulations on all the publications — I think THEY are the lucky ones, though, to have your beautiful work on their pages. And even better, they asked permission.I love the story of the boat and it makes a wonderful analogy for what we do for love and how it can have delightful and unexpected consequences!

    1. The world of publishing is far different from the internet snatch-and-grabbing that goes on. Real publishing houses, organizations, and researchers do ask permission; they know better than to not.

      But aside from all that, it’s been great fun to see my photos in a different context, and to learn about plants I didn’t know — even in my part of the country. That’s part of the fun: getting to learn in such an enjoyable way. As for the boys and their pirate ship, it sure gives a different meaning to ‘whatever floats your boat.’ When I started watching, the ship was in the Florida Keys. Now, it’s off Jacksonville, and pointed toward Charleston. So amazing!

    1. I suspect it’s a reminder we all need from time to time. I’ve always appreciated T.S.Eliot’s wisdom on the subject, expressed in “East Coker”:

      “What there is to conquer
      By strength and submission has already been discovered
      Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
      To emulate—but there is no competition—
      There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
      And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
      That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
      For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”

    1. That little ship is on the move, too. When I looked this morning, it had passed Jacksonville, Florida, and with a wind shift, was heading farther off the coast. Great fun! As for my photos, I’d not characterize them as ‘perfection,’ but I’ve learned a lot, and as my technical skills have improved, so has my own enjoyment. Discovering that others can make use of them is the proverbial icing on the cake.

  14. I’m pleased to see that your photos are getting the notice they deserve. I’d always considered them to be as good as any I’ve seen in my reference books. Congratulations – your photos and writing deserve the recognition.

    1. Certainly in this case the surprise was a good part of the fun. Heaven knows I spend enough time combing the internet for information; I’d never considered that an internet search might bring someone to my pages. Three photos is an infinitesimal sample size, but it’s evidence that social media isn’t necessary to be noticed (says Little Miss Analog).

  15. Very exciting! Congrats!! Recognition by naturalists in Oregon, Washington, Indiana…but of course, your posts and photos are seen by people all over the country and overseas, too.
    And the story of the little toy pirate ship voyaging around the oceans is just great fun, Yo Ho Ho to Ollie and Harry!
    I clicked on the link to Xerces, and see that it’s a Society for Invertebrate Conservation, so I guess we’ll charter a Society for Inveterate Admirers of Linda Leinen.

    1. I’d accept any and all invertebrate admirers, too — although it’s probably hard for snails and slugs to access the internet. It pleased me that the photos were being put to educational use, too. So many people have helped me begin to learn about our native plants that it’s satisfying to return the favor in this small way.

      As for the boys, they’ve gotten a taste for real adventure. Next up is a circumnavigation of the globe by following the Circumpolar current around Antarctica. This bears no resemblance whatsoever to the science projects of my youth!

  16. Congratulations, Linda. And I’m not surprised. You take your flower photography and research very seriously. And how right you are. You never know where something you’ve written or photographed will be picked up and used, or touch someone in a special way. Sometimes you hear about it, but often you don’t. I remember a few years ago when Liberia’s main newspaper picked up and used a photo of a Bush Devil that I had taken decades ago and even credited me. Recently I got a request from the chamber of commerce of one of Oregon’s coastal towns wanting use my photos in brochures and other media publicizing the town. It’s always gratifying. –Curt

    1. I do take both nature and photography seriously; that’s why photographing the flowers (and spiders, and sunsets, and such) is so enjoyable. Fun and effort aren’t mutually exclusive, despite what some seem to think. I’ve often thought that the best soundtrack for a documentary on nature photographers would be the song “Getting to Know You,” because that’s one of the things photography does; it allows us to get to know the world in a different way. (Especially with a macro lens!)

      1. One of my few regrets, Linda, is that I didn’t start sooner. My dad used to hound me. “You visit all of theses beautiful places. You really should carry a camera.” One of the joys I have now is being able to revisit the places I have journeyed in the last 30 years. And that makes me think of all those beautiful places that have become dim memories.
        And I couldn’t agree more on how photography enhances how we see things. –Curt

    1. Well, maybe not the rest of the world, but at least a small part of it. I enjoy sharing my photos as much as I enjoy making them, and this is just a different way of sharing. What’s especially pleasing is that the three photos are being utilized in publications meant for three somewhat different audiences. It’s ironic that, when I first began photographing, I might have passed up the fasciated Indian paintbrush since it wasn’t typically ‘pretty.’ A little education is a wonderful thing!

  17. Kudos, Linda! I’m not one tiny bit surprised your photos are being shared so extensively. They’re works of art, lovingly captured and graciously “tossed to sea” for all to appreciate. I hope these requests added a few beans to your basket though!

    1. I think as much as anything, having this trio selected for publication is an encouragement to keep working and improving. The internal dialogue goes something like this: “They were that good? Really? Well, let’s see if I can do even better.”

      You know the internet. There are hundreds of thousands (even millions) of “Awesome!!!” and “Neat photo!!!” comments running around, but there’s no way to judge actual quality by those. Of course I appreciate them, because they mean someone else has at least looked, but someone saying, “We’d like to put this one in our book” is different, and I certainly was pleased.

  18. Your photos are great and I can understand why they caught the eye of these publications. Congrats. I, too, believe that cause and effect are often very far apart in time– and geography now thanks to the internet. I like the teacher’s metaphor. Makes sense to me.

    1. It’s a great metaphor, and it points to a reality plenty of artists have experienced. Kinky Friedman isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love him. In this interview, he tells the story of how his song “Ride ‘Em, Jewboy” became a favorite of Nelson Mandela while Mandela was in prison. At about 4:08, he muses on that connection and says, “If you’re in entertainment, if you’re an artist, if you’re in public service, you never know who you’re going to reach.” Kinky gets it.

    1. What a lovely way to describe those buds, and I’d have to agree. Folded hands and infolded buds have something of the same gentle appeal. I thought that was one photo that was equally beautiful and useful for purposes of documentation.

  19. Well, jeepers, Linda–who wouldn’t want one of your gorgeous photos?! Congratulations and what a nice way to participate in science, research, and education!

    1. That’s it, exactly. Like you, I try to do a little casual educating when I post my photos (for myself, as well as for others!) so having these photos chosen for science, research, and education is as pleasing as having one hung in a gallery. I happened across an interview with Kinky Friedman, talking about the fact that his song “Ride ‘Em, Jewboy” was a favorite of Nelson Mandela. The song was smuggled to Mandela while he was in prison, and while talking about it, Kinky says, “If you’re in entertainment, if you’re an artist, if you’re in public service, you never know who you’re going to reach.” Exactly. You can hear the whole thing here. It’s quite a story.

  20. I love your ‘bottle tossed into the sea’ analogy of work that goes out into the world, heading for unknown shores. And congrats on getting your photos published. Good work, Linda!

    1. Thanks, Eliza. Giving a photo or essay “the old heave-ho” doesn’t necessarily mean tossing it away forever. I’m more than glad that these photos found new homes, and that they’ll serve in ways I never imagined.

  21. One immediately thought of Sting’s musical “Message in a Bottle.” Casting your metaphorical bread upon the water can bring unexpected and delightful results.

    1. I enjoy Sting, but I didn’t remember that song. Odd. Anyway, it certainly is apropos, as is your remark about casting bread upon the waters.

      I knew that saying comes from Ecclesiastes, but I wasn’t sure of the chapter, so I looked it up, and remembered how important it is to choose translations carefully.The New King James version is typical of most translations: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” The Good News Translation? “Invest your money in foreign trade, and one of these days you will make a profit.” Uh… Someone has a point of view, and it’s not 3rd century BC Hebrew.

  22. The story is a great setup for the wonderful news of your publications. And all the images are certainly worthy choices by the requesters. Your photography has become outstanding since the beginning of your pursuits. The best part is that it is your interest and dedication to botanical subjects which pushes you to make these photographs and not the pursuit of publication, profit, or fame, which is also a quality of your writing efforts. Congratulations, Linda!

    1. I was especially pleased when Storey Publishing contacted me about the milkweed, since that’s a favorite plant and a favorite set of photos. I didn’t want to say anything about that until the book actually was published, just in case it wasn’t; things do happen. But after the two other requests came in, and the book arrived — well. I’d read about the voyage of Adventure, and things fell into place.

      I do get a kick out of looking through my archives from five years ago. None of the photos I published then was ‘awful,’ but it’s also true that many of them never would see the light of day, now. Funny how our standards change as we improve!

      1. I agree. I don’t remember any as being “awful” but we all start somewhere and I think it’s true for most all of us, amateur and professional, that our earliest efforts wouldn’t cut it today. I will readily admit that anything I made back then that looks good now was an accident as I had no idea about composition or exposure and most all were point and shoot and hope for the best. However, I occasionally find something old that I like and the new tools I’ve learned to use make some of them acceptable and occasionally one shines. A favorite quote, although maybe not accurate to the word, is from Pablo Casals. When asked why he continued to practice even after achieving master’s status he said he thought he was improving. We all should have that attitude.

  23. That is some well-earned recognition! Your photos always make me stop and look (although your accompanying prose and/or poetry is just as captivating). Sorry – I’m gushing!

    1. Getting someone to stop and look is the height of achievement for me. I’m more interested in sharing than in award-winning, so your willingness to give my photos a gander pleases me more than you know.

  24. Congrats on the photo publications! And I agree, waiting is becoming a lost art. And yet we often don’t see the results of our efforts until quite some time later. Blogging is just one example of that truth, as you pointed out.

    1. Thanks so much, Ann. I do hope all is going well, and that you have something enjoyable planned for the near future. Heaven knows we all need breaks from time to time, and I’m glad you’re wise enough to take one. I’ll look forward to your return!

  25. I loved the Adventure story. Congrats on your publications! The milkweed photograph is beautiful.
    And thanks for the Virginia Woolf quote. In your years blogging here, you’ve built a remarkable community of respondents, a tribute to your writing and photography skills and your commitment to reaching out – brava.

    1. When I checked this morning, Adventure 2 was off Charleston, making a turn to the east. It’s amazing to be able to track it, of course, but it’s just as amazing that it’s making the sort of time it is. I would have expected it to do a bit more ‘just bobbing around,’ but once it got in the area of the Gulf stream, with favorable winds, it really took off.

      To be honest, I’m just not a marketer or self-promoter by nature, so that made the contacts from the various publications the best of all possible worlds: a little exposure, some usefulness to others, and no need for obsessive pushing my work on social media. I have toyed with the thought of a book — two, in fact — and I already have the titles and cover art pickout out. I just haven’t been able to make myself pursue it. You know how much work it is!

      Anyway: thanks for your kind words. I do enjoy my blogs as much for the conversations as for the act of posting, so they’ve served me well over the years. I certainly have learned a lot.

    1. Thank you. I’m really quite fond of that milkweed photo myself. The Indian paintbrush is quite interesting, but those were different sorts of photos: purely documentary records of an unusual but less aesthetically pleasing plant. No matter — there’s a place for that kind of photo, too, and it was fun to have the paintbrush put to use.

  26. Congratulations on the photos published, Linda. Your images are excellent and very clear in detail so no wonder you’ve had several requests for publication. Keep up the great work .

    1. It’s just more proof (as if we needed it) that the world-wide web is an amazing thing. There are frustrations from time to time (this morning, our USDA plant distribution maps are down), but it’s a wonderful tool for learning and connecting. To say I was surprised in all three instances would be quite an understatement, but it was fun to be contacted “out of the blue” for such a pleasant reason.

  27. Congratulations on the publications! It is always a profoundly satisfying experience to have your work recognized in a way like this. Thanks as well for the reminder of the importance of delayed gratification. It is a hard discipline in these days, but if practiced regularly changes the way we wait, I think.

    1. It was satisfying, and quite a surprise. If nothing else, it’s a good reminder that not all surprises are bad ones, and there are times when what falls into our lap is even better than anything we could have planned.

      That’s an interesting thought: that waiting itself changes the nature of the experience. It occurs to me that Henri Nouwen’s written as well as anyone about the different modes of waiting. In fact, I think he might have been the one who used the example of an impatient child tearing apart a flower bud in his eagerness to see the flower. That’s a lesson, for sure.

  28. It does not surprise me in the least. I remember your brightwork on Mike and Karen’s Wanderer (how many years ago???). Doing a excellent job seems to be a “Linda trait” whether art or “just work”. Life is funny. I have lost a lot of my memory, like a patchwork quilt with half the squares missing, but one I still have is you in your zone plying your trade on that boat. The funny part is I don’t remember much about Satori. Perhaps sometimes you don’t need a camera or keyboard to communicate.

    1. I saw some photos of Portofino after Ike a while back, and had to stop to figure out how long ago it was. It’s only (?!) been thirteen years, but it seems like a lifetime. A lot of people have moved on since then, but those years were some of the best. There were a lot of characters around then, and a lot of real sailors. If nothing else, we were rich in stories.

      I’m still plying that trade, and enjoying it. I rarely take a new customer these days; I have plenty of work to keep me as busy as I want, and after all — I need a little time for writing and photography, too.

      You’re certainly right that our devices aren’t always necessary — not for communication, and not for memories. I didn’t even own a camera when I had some of my best experiences, but I still remember them.

  29. Thank you for sharing this very inspiring Adventure story, Linda. I also like the comparison between teaching and throwing a bottle into the ocean. And to have your wonderful photos chosen for several publications must be such an affirmation of your hobby. Congratulations!

    1. Adventure 2 is off Myrtle Beach now; if she can get past the Outer Banks — well, who knows? It’s the sort of story I love. Every now and then I click into the Marine Traffic site just to see what’s going on; tracking ships is the maritime version of plane and train spotters.

      I do enjoy sharing my photos; that’s the primary reason I started my second blog. Beyond that, it’s been a good way to keep sharpening my skills. It seems to be working — who knows where I’ll be in five more years? If three more photos have been chosen, I’ll be happy. To be honest, I’ll be happy even if they aren’t. I just enjoy the seeing and the sharing.

      1. Just seeing all that marine traffic on the map made me dizzy. I guess I had no idea how many vessels there are in the oceans.

        I hope you will continue to develop and enjoy your photography. Nature definitely offers us countless wonderful scenes.

  30. I thoroughly appreciate your photos and your words — they stand the test of time. I’m pleased to read others beyond those of us blogging with you here have come to know the value of what you share well beyond the levels of our appreciation.

    Following the Adventure and Adventure II is fascinating as is the metaphor you present. We never know when what has given us joy exploring and sharing may resonate with others — all in good time.

    1. When I began this blog, my stated purpose was to ‘learn to write.’ Of course I could spell and punctuate; I meant something rather different, and I’ve met my goal to one degree or another. It was the same with Lagniappe. I began that blog as a tool for learning photography, and as a way to learn about our native plants. That’s worked out rather well, too, and if I’m happy with anything, it’s with how much I’ve learned.

      It certainly has been fun tracking Adventure 2. It’s going to be even more interesting to follow their next project: a circumpolar navigation in Antarctica. Their projects certainly beat sitting on the sofa playing video games.

  31. What a cool entry. Very much an “I shot an arrow into the air…” type of thing for the Ferguson brothers with their little ship and you with your words and photos.

    All of us here have admired your work but, I have to admit, we are a bit prejudiced. What a thrill for you to have them published by special request!

    1. It certainly was pleasing to be contacted re: the photos. Sometimes, life’s little surprises can be pleasant ones. As for the boys, I thought about you when Adventure 2 was off Charleston. She made it past the Outer Banks and is east of Kitty Hawk now. There’s something appropriate about that! Checking in on the boat’s part of the morning routine, now. It’s as interesting as the nest cams.

  32. I love this story, both literally and as a metaphor. I think we can all learn something by your words, not the least today, when we are so used to instant gratification – but maybe also less authentic and valuable gratification. I knew nothing about the Adventure and neither about Christian Radich’s involvement with the project. Fun to read about.

    1. When I found that the Christian Radich was involved in the story, I thought of you, and was sure you’d be intrigued by that angle. It’s going to be interesting to see where Adventure 2 ends up. At this point, another Atlantic crossing seems entirely possible.

      I think my views on instant gratification and my ability to exercise at least some patience have been shaped by both sailing and brightwork. Neither are speedy endeavors, to say the least. When I sailed from Hawaii to Alaska, it took ten days to cover 2400 miles: an average of ten miles per hour. I think Adventure 2 might be moving faster than that!

  33. What a lovely post! I just loved how you used the little boats, fascinating in themselves. Congratulations on having so many pictures published. Your photography is wonderful so I’m not at all

    1. Adventure 2 has made a turn and is heading northeast now, off Virginia. It’s such fun to watch it travel. When I posted this story, it still was in the Florida Keys!

      Having my photos published as they were is lagniappe, for sure: unexpected, and a little ‘extra’ pleasure for me. Just taking them and posting them on my blogs has been quite enough, but it’s satisfying to have them used in such ways. I never imagined they’d serve such educational purposes, but it pleases me.

  34. Congratulations on getting your photos published!! How exciting. You do take beautiful photos and your stories along with them are always so interesting. You weave quite a tapestry!!

    1. Thanks so much, Debra. It’s been a fun experience. Now, back to writing and taking photos and sharing — just to see what happens next. Sometimes, the surprises in life are good ones, and aren’t we glad for that?

  35. Fantastic metaphor about teaching. Throwing words (and love and history and science and…) out into the sea of young faces, and hoping some of those words are far-reaching. My daughter is a 6th grade science teacher, and I’ve seen the difference she’s made in the lives of those children she teaches. Teachers make SUCH a huge difference in our world, and are rarely appreciated for all they do.
    And now. WOW your photos are INCREDIBLE!!

    1. I was lucky to have some wonderful teachers in grade school, and I still remember most of their names — not to mention the projects we did in their classes. I have no doubt some of your daughter’s students will remember her with the same affection. One of the most important things we could do for our teachers is free them to teach, rather than to perform the increasing number of bureaucratic tasks they’re faced with. A little more freedom to design their curriculum for the children themselves wouldn’t be so bad, either.

      I so glad you enjoyed the post, and the photos. Summer’s approaching, and I’m eager to get out with my camera and see what’s happening!

  36. Congratulations on your achievements bravo!

    I really enjoyed this post, so chockfull of interesting information. I learnt a lot about topics I know little of and it was a fun read. I loved your photos as well. The milkweed and the spiderwort are spectacular shots.


    1. Thanks, Peta! I just took a look at the tracking map, and Adventure 2 has moved well into the Atlantic, east of Virginia. Every time I look, I’m amazed all over again that the tracker still is working; sometimes, technology provides some very creative solutions to unusual problems — like following the voyage of a toy pirate ship.

      I like the spiderwort and milkweed portraits myself, although I’ll confess an equal affection for the ‘ugly duckling’ of the group. Fasication does fascinate me, and I’ve been pleased to find two more examples since taking the photos of the paintbrush. There’s always something to see!

  37. Thank you Linda for sharing such a timely, interesting and uplifting post.
    Thank you also for visiting my blog and for your comments.
    Take care.

    1. If you haven’t followed the tracking map that I linked to, you might find it interesting. The little boat moved as far north as Virginia, and then took a right, toward the middle of the Atlantic. It’s going to be great fun to see where she lands. I hope your brother lands on his feet soon!

      1. Yes Linda, look forward to viewing the tracking map.
        Thank you so much for your kind thoughts about my brother.
        Had a good day today following a successful family doctor visit. I walked the 5 minute walk to the surgery with him and then picked him up in my car. All good timing and appreciated a parking space.

  38. This is a wonderful post, Linda. Thank you for reminding me it was here because I had missed it. And it was most timely in my world deciding whether or not to continue blogging. I really don’t think there was any question, but this post certainly affirmed the reasons why…you never know who we might touch. And funnily enough, I have always said that…if whatever I say or show touches one person, it’s worth it. Thanks for reminding me of my own words.

    As for these gorgeous photos…I’m so glad they got picked up. That’s

    1. I hope you’re still within range of wifi, so you don’t think I’ve been ignoring you. It’s been one thing or another around here: nothing precisely bad, but plenty complicated, which means I fell behind on a lot of things.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I’m not surprised. We share a few attributes, and an ability (and willingness) to take the long view is one of them. As for photos, I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of yours as you migrate north; I enjoy and just slightly envy your ability to see so many marvelous sights along the way.

  39. Linda, this post was a complete joy, thank you. As a former teacher and lifelong writer, I was deeply touched by your theme about what we put out in the world, and may or may not get feedback on. The story of the two Adventure boats was a wonderful example, and a sweet reminder of the beauty of humans. Your published photos were a joy to hear about, and I salute you with a congratulatory smile. The narrative of this post was also masterful. Cheers to you, Linda.

    1. I hadn’t checked on Adventure 2 for a few days, and just found it still east of Virginia, making a couple of little loops. It’s interesting to watch a ‘vessel’ that has no ability to set its own course. It reminds me of an old saying: “You can’t set a course with a plywood sail.”

      I was pleased beyond measure to have those photos chosen, particularly since they’re being used for educational purposes. When I began Lagniappe as a second, photo blog dedicated mostly to native plants, I never would or could have predicted such a thing. I suppose it’s fitting that their choosing was a kind of lagniappe, as well!

  40. Congratulations on your publications, and well deserved, too, Linda! I have missed your floral photography. Again you have captured some of nature’s true wonders beautfully.

    1. Thank you, Pete. I’m enjoying my photography even more these days, although I occasionally have to tamp down a bit of equipment envy. On the other hand, I’ve no desire to tote around two-foot-long lenses and tripods, or drag them along behind me in a wagon as I saw someone doing last week, so on I go! It’s good to have you back, and good to know you enjoy what I’m up to here.

  41. I thoroughly enjoyed finding my destination for the moment with this post. I was totally in awe of the two Adventures’ ocean journeys. Your application of a teacher’s actions finding safe harbor with students was a beautiful thought. Having taught 40 years before retiring a few years ago, I can totally relate.

    1. I hadn’t looked for some weeks to see where Adventure 2 might be, but I checked it out, and there it is: mid-Atlantic. If it can get caught up in the right winds, it just might make it to Ireland or the British Isles.

      I’m glad you read this and commented, because it brought the post back to my attention at exactly the right time. One of my own little bottles has been picked up again, and I will be writing about the experience in the next couple of weeks or so. Suffice it to say my convictions about the ‘rightness’ of my way of approaching things — at least, for me — has been proven right again. Every now and then, it’s nice to be right!

      I know this: having the right teacher can make all the difference in the world. I’m sure you have some students who are as grateful for you as I am for mine.

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