No. 39. Goldenrod vs. Ragweed, What Nature Can Tell Us

Brightly-colored flowers have a function in nature. To attract pollinating animals to savor their nectar and fertilize other plants of the species with the life-giving pollen they collect in the process. This is basic birds and bees stuff. But not all plants depend on this symbiotic relationship. Some more plain-Jane plants depend on the movement of the air to spread their pollen. The pollen from these plants by polluting the air can cause misery for animals like us.

Ragweed is one of those plain-Jane plants that cause a great deal of misery to allergy suffers in late summer and early fall. It so happens that ragweed dispenses its noxious payload around the same time as Goldenrod blooms in its full glory and gets mistaken for the culprit. Naturally, since people see the Goldenrod they blame it for their suffering instead of the real culprit, which thanks to its nondescript nature hides in plain sight. And then there is Tearthumb (Persicaria perfoliata), an invasive weed, that grows colorful berries to encourage birds and small animals to facilitate its mile-a-minute spread.

Native species like Goldenrod, Purple Asters, Ironweed (withered and pictured standing next to Joe Pie above), Jewel Weed, Boneset, meadow grasses are all beneficial pollinator-friendly plants that are also fairly aggressive in re-conquering territory if left mostly to their own devices without constant mowing or spraying. Some invasives, like Tearthumb or multifloral rose, require active measures like herbicides or removal by the roots.

Jay M. Ressler

Jay Ressler Composite Photography and Encaustic Art He is an outstanding location photographer, with an eye that can capture the soul of a Havana back street as beautifully as the sip of a hungry hummingbird, often with compelling black and white images. But Jay Ressler is best known for artistic expression that lives in layers between opposites. “I like to explore boundaries,” he explains. “Boundaries between consciousness and the unconscious, between reality and imagination, between certainty and skepticism.” He does this by compositing his own photography in multiple layers to produce stunningly original, interleaved images. Using Photoshop, other image manipulation software and a variety of digital effects, he paints one photographic layer on top of another. He takes advantage of textures he's captured along with an array of processes for manipulating light, contrast, and color to tell the story. “Distorting and reinterpreting the literal 'machine moments' captured by the camera is as old as the art of photography,” he insists. Jay occasionally extends his multi-layered approach to encaustic mixed media creations. Based on ancient techniques, the process begins with cooking his own recipes of beeswax and damar resin and applying this medium between the layers of photographic images, along with various pigmented compounds and materials to add color, texture and expression. Either way, the results are riveting. The viewer is drawn into an unfolding, dreamlike scene that might be heart-warming, haunting, gritty, poignant or magical. Sometimes, within the various layers, all of the above. The award-winning photographer/artist has many dimensions himself. He studied advanced digital photography at Pittsburgh Filmmakers and advanced encaustic techniques with leading instructors in the field. He worked as an underground coal miner, steelworker, machinist, labor and civil rights activist, copywriter and commercial printer. He has a BS in Psychology from Albright College.

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