It May Freeze Tonight, But

Our first bluebonnet!

Spring still insists on showing up! That’s right! Today the first bluebonnet popped its little head up along the road in front of the ranch.

Such fresh beauty.

And, like magic, Indian paintbrush were all over my drive! There are at least a dozen in our roadside bed, too.

Happy Indian Paintbrushes.

Lee has been asked to not mow again so we can enjoy the flowers. I don’t think the Vrazels will mow our pasture again for a while, either. They did just fertilize, though, and you can see green stripes on the ground. Maybe they planted something? I’ll have to ask them.

Can you see the green stripes?

I was pretty sure they were supposed to keep things organic, though.

I should have a medal for getting out and taking these pictures. The wind was awful!

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Getting Ready for Earth Day

Happy Sunday! Yesterday I attended a committee meeting with our Master Naturalist group. Rather than write it up twice, I’m sharing my post on their blog.

I’d like to add that I saw a huge dead feral hog on the way in, and found some Indian paintbrush flowers on the roadside between Cameron and rural Rockdale!

Nature Along the El Camino Real

Yesterday, the Environment and Recycling Ad-hoc Committee’s Earth Day subcommittee met to continue to work out plans. I was glad I could finally attend a meeting, because it was fun to see the team at work. I was joined by Ann Collins, Linda Jo Conn, Joyce Conner, Catherine Johnson, Rosie Johnson (guest and helper), Larry Kocian, Kathy Lester, and Donna Lewis (the leader of the bunch).

Nandina and Texas mountain laurel added beauty and scent too the meetiing.

What’s going on with Earth Day?

The El Camino Real Master Naturalist Chapter’s biggest outreach project each year is to host an Earth Day event, to share ways to protect the planet with the community. This year it will be at:

Rockdale Community Center, 109 N. Main, on Saturday, April 20, 10 am – 2 pm.

We were excited to learn about all the planned activities and tables. Our team leader, Donna…

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Dreary Daze

Sunset yesterday at least had a hint of pink. This is the front pond.

Once again we’re going through a dreary time. Since that one nice day last week, it’s been chilly and cloudy or foggy for days. It sure doesn’t feel like Texas.

Today’s sunset looked no more cheery in color. So much mist. This is the back pond.

But, of course it is. You just never know how it will be this time of year. It probably will even freeze again next week.

Colorful blooms from outside of Rockdale.

The most color I saw today was at fellow Master Naturalist Catherine’s house, where she had made us a fragrant flower arrangement as we planned the Rockdale Earth Day celebration for next month.

I guess all my dogs and I will curl up while I read my nonfiction book. I’ve written blog posts and helped my Friends of LLL coworker with WordPress already. Time to relax, friends.

Observing the Seasons

One of the things I really wanted to do with this blog is make note of the passing of the seasons, when things come into bloom, when birds arrive and depart, etc. Today has been a great day for that, because even with the unseasonable chill in the air, the plants and animals remind me it is spring!

Not my picture, but exactly what I saw, down to the pond and tall grass.

On my way to work today, I had to turn around and go back to my friend’s house, because she needed something. Only she didn’t. But I couldn’t be upset, because the second time I drove by the first property after Walker’s Creek, a deer went over the road. On the other side were six more, of varying sizes. I can’t tell you how happy that made me, since we used to have very few deer right around here. I know they lost a big daddy buck during deer season, so I am happy there are new ones coming up.

Come and get us, bees!

As I drove on up the hill, lovely native Mexican plum trees (Prunus mexicalis) were blooming. They are all over the wooded areas in this part of Texas. The photo you see here is from the one hiding in our woods, from last year. They are my favorite sign of early spring in this area.

A dewberry flower, from last spring.

I remembered to look down as I drove, and sure enough, the dewberries have started to bloom. Oh hooray! The bees will be even more happy to see them than I was, and we can look forward to more treats!

The redbuds that are native are also blooming away, which makes sense for March 1. My favorite month for flowers has begun!

Creatures Great and Small

My potted Texas mountal laurel is going to bloom! I didn’t kill it.

Yesterday the weather was beautiful, so Anita, the dogs, and I spent the late afternoon outdoors in Austin. Honestly, I just wanted to get some exercise and enjoy the air, but I just can’t stop with the nature observations. I guess iNaturalist is the winner there!

Trailing lantana, invading our hillside. Can you see ants on it?

As we walked the dogs, Anita asked me what a pretty white flower was. I could see it was a type of lantana, but it was not in a spot where anyone would have planted it. So, I submitted it to iNaturalist and hoped for the best.

Continue reading “Creatures Great and Small”

Let’s Read Nonfiction

You might not be surprised to learn that I mostly read nonfiction (when not reading my many magazine subscriptions). I do this, because I really love to learn new things, especially how the natural world works and what makes living organisms tick.

For example, two of my past favorite books were an excellent history of the pencil and a book called Salt, which showed the importance of salt to commerce and history.

I also really like memoirs and biographies, so I’m really happy that my book club chose Becoming, by Michelle Obama as our next assigned reading. My quick recommendations for this genre from recent years include the memoirs/biographies of Keith Richards, Warren Zevon, Bruce Springsteen, and Sally Field (see, not all of them are musicians).

What am I reading now?

At the moment, I’m in the middle of the book you see here, Underground. It’s Will Hunt’s first book, but what a fun one! He goes all over the world looking at caves, mines, catacombs, and tunnels. Each chapter is very different, but always fascinating.

I learned a lot about what’s underneath Paris, and right now am learning a lot more about the significance of red ochre to civilizations around the world, while Hunt visits an ancient site in Australia and learns of how holy it is to the people of the region.

If you’re not a sufferer of second-hand claustrophobia, I recommend it!

I just received my copy of Never Home Alone, in which Rob Dunn makes it abundantly clear that you can’t clean a house well enough to eliminate all your uninvited “neighbors.” I can’t wait to learn all about spiders, crickets, dust mites, and their teeny-tiny cohorts!

This book really drives home the point that you can’t escape “nature” by staying indoors! It appears quite plausible that there can be “indoor master naturalists” who just focus inside the house. Hmm, with my never-ending battle against the moths in my kitchen cabinets and the yearly cricket invasions, I may already be one of those.

Oakleaf hydrangea. I love the contrast between last year’s purple leaves and the newly emerging ones that are so pale green that they are almost white.

Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments! As a reward, here are a couple of photos of some beautiful new spring growth.

Work redbud. If only you could hear the birds and smell the sweet olive!

PS: Baby hawks should be on the way! Mating was observed. They have no shame. Of course. They’re birds.

Can’t Stop Hawk Watching

The Cooper’s hawk family is so exciting that I can’t stop watching them. They’re also yelling a lot, as if to declare that THEY rule the courtyard.

Coming in for a landing.

We’ve seen them going in and out of the nest, sitting together on the building roof, and carrying food.

Zoom!

So here are some action shots from my iPhone through a dirty window. Because it’s fun.