Nothing brightens the summer garden like the durable coneflower, or “orange coneflower,” as it’s more correctly known. And it continues to give joy in the winter, the black flower heads and stems tracing a beautiful, pointillistic pattern against the snow (if you don’t cut them off).

I’ve never had much luck photographing these flowers while perched in the garden; my perspective was too low, I guess. But the other day, about 10 in the morning, I happened to look out and saw a soft, luminous light that set the yellow petals positively aglow. From the vantage of my window, I took this photo. Unruly these flowers are, yes, but that’s part of their charm.

During the tropical storm, Irene, they were whipped to and fro furiously by the wind for several hours. Of course, everything in the garden was being whipped, but the coneflowers moved together with a mechanical precision that was hypnotic to watch: back and forth, then round and round, then back and forth again, like whirling dervishes. I thought, surely they’ll lose their petals. Afterwards, I saw they had been beaten up a little, but survived intact. What a flower!

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