On a visit to Huntington Beach State Park earlier this spring, I saw this great egret.

What could be better? A large bird, moving slower than my speed-of-focus, with a decent reflection and without any distracting background. Of course, it would have to be a white bird: It’s always a challenge to manage the exposure to show the detail of the feathers.

Great egret in mid-step, reflectedOn a visit to Brookgreen Gardens last week, a friend and I saw those little yellow-and-white and orange-and-white flowers that look a lot like daffodils.

“Daffodils,” I said.

“Narcissus,” said my friend. And indeed, narcissuses/narcissi they were, according to a docent passing by.

As I got this egret photo ready to post — deciding that the reflection compensated for the exposure — I wondered for the first time why the flower and the guy falling in love with his own reflection had the same name.

in Greek mythology, the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope.
He was distinguished for his beauty. . .
He fell in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring
and pined away (or killed himself);
the flower that bears his name sprang up where he died.



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6 Responses to Narcissus

  1. When asked by a passing nature lover of some plant, “What is that?” John’s mother would always say the same thing, “Stitchwort,” and the person would thank her and happily move on.
    His mother said, “People don’t want THE answer, they want AN answer.”

  2. Tom Watson says:

    What an excellent photo of that egret!

    By the way, I know an ancient Greek. His name isn’t Narcissus, though, it’s Nicos, so may not be of much help.

  3. Alison says:

    What an odd way to name a flower? where he died? I’ll never look at a narcissus the same again.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – Sorry! Although it’s just a myth so you can safely ignore this apparent explanation, in my view. Maybe what happened is that they had a name for a flower that grew beside small ponds, and named a mythic fellow after them.

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