Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Getting through winter

I must confess. I don't like winter much at all. Cold, dreary, dead grass, dead plants. Not that we had much green a few months ago. With our ongoing drought, even the horseherb in the front yard has crackled away to nothing. The last time we had any rain of significance was the second week of last October. The Blanco River has completely dried up in many places. So sad. But only the dear Lord knows when rain will come again. We've been through this before, and we got through it then. We will again.

As my good friend, C.A. Rust likes to say, "We're one day closer to rain!"

So in the meantime, we're trying to keep bird baths filled in between cold snaps. I tried to get a little creative and held the hose while I snapped a photo of water splashing into James' carved-out stone.

On the chain-length fence, dozens of tufts of fluff dazzled in the sunlight. Those are spores released by resident ball mosses in our live oaks. They'll attach to anything, including fences, telephone lines, and tree bark. Check out my article on this misunderstood bromeliad (Tillandsia recurvata) in Texas Parks and Wildlife (February 2008).

Sadly, I'm guessing our leadwort plumbago has given it up for the season. This is its second winter so it should come back next spring. In the meantime, the leaves are so beautifully colored.

I do wish I knew more about winter gardening, like do we prune away dead branches? I've read that it's best to leave them, which helps plants to overwinter. So we're just watering occasionally and leaving things alone.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sun at last

So dreary these past few days, though the moisture has been welcome. This afternoon, I went outside to do a little watering and get away from my desk. Warm temps felt good. When I spotted an admiral sunning itself, I set the water hose down and went inside for my camera. Naturally, by the time I returned, a gray cloud moved in front of the sun. Still, I snapped a few shots. Such a wonder to see a butterfly in the middle of December. Upon closer examination of the photo, I can see that it's a bit beat up but still so beautiful...

Then I walked over and took a picture of our eastern screech owl, who roosts every afternoon. About two weeks ago, BOTH of our nest boxes were occupied at the same time, confirming that we do have a pair. Maybe I already reported that in an earlier post?

It's only December, and already James and I can't wait for spring. I think maybe I've said THAT before, too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow comes to the Hill Country

Finally, after what seemed too long, I went outside yesterday morning and watered our front-yard Wildscape. The sun was shining, and the temperature felt warm. I had on a short-sleeved shirt, capri jeans, and slaps. In the back, I watered about half, then stopped. Figured I'd save the rest for later.

Well, later turned into mid afternoon, and by then, the wind had whipped up. Temperatures were quickly cooling, too. I finished watering and ducked back in the house.

By 3:30 p.m., it was WINDY. I was outside and waved to a middle schooler as he walked past toward home. We chatted about the wind.

"It's going to snow," he said matter-of-factly.

"Really?" I was skeptical. "How do you know?"

"My iPod," he replied.

Right. Sure. iPods can predict weather now, too. And I own a hotel in Hawaii. Seriously, I didn't pay too much attention to his forecast.

Then the hail came after 9 p.m., nickel-sized and lots of it.

"It's going to snow next," James said matter-of-factly as he peered out the dining room door. Right. Sure.

And dog gone if it didn't! After 10 p.m., the flakes fell, covering our yard in less than a half hour. Just like a kid, James ran down the hall and hollered at Lindsey to wake up. I got up long enough to say I saw it, then I went back to bed. James, however, took lots of photos, and Lindsey made a snowman. Sorta.

This morning, I ventured outside and took just a few shots.

Last Saturday, after my father passed, we left the hospital and met at a Denny's in Boerne for an early lunch. My sweet nephew, Brandon (who's eight), drew this little scene, using blue and orange crayons that I'd fetched for him at the restaurant. I thought it appropriate to post along with my other snow photos.

So how did YOU know, Brandon?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

In honor of a Great Man

My Beloved Father
Harry Lee Smith
January 9, 1927-December 6, 2008

I love you, Daddy. More.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Welcome back

Awhile ago, I sat down with my cheese sandwich in the dining room and thought I spotted a familiar sight up in the live oak. Then more appeared at our bird feeder...our American goldfinches have returned for the winter season. 

No photos of the grand event. Just trust me....they're back!!!

Talk about windy, too. I'm staying indoors today.