Neither Rain Nor Sleet Nor Snow…

6 January 2018 ~ Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

…nor January freezes could overcome this tiny, wholly unexpected promise of a sweet and early spring. Despite some cold-singed leaves, this four-inch tall Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) seemed to whisper, “Only two more months. Patience.”


Comments always are welcome.


46 thoughts on “Neither Rain Nor Sleet Nor Snow…

    1. It’s a spring favorite here. It often grows as a companion to bluebonnets, and depending on how they mix in a field, the combination of reddish-orange and blue can turn the field purple. Of course, even on their own, they’re delightful. Here’s a nice view from Kingsland, Texas that shows a mix along an old railroad track.

      1. Beautiful! The Texas Lupinus subcarnosus is also in FL according to the USDA. Maybe I’ll see it eventually. The link from Kingsland is beautiful!

    1. Since 11 seems to be the number of the day (I’ve seen your current post) I’m wondering if it took you 11 minutes to find it.

      Number humor aside, it is fun to find the seasons overlapping. This paintbrush wasn’t more than a foot away from the last shriveled fruits of a silverleaf nightshade.

      1. After six years, I don’t remember how long it took to find that out-of-season paintbrush. It would certainly have stood out and called attention to itself. Silverleaf nightshade is so common in Austin that its fruits, in some stage or other, are pretty much a permanent fixture here.

  1. Just shows you how life survives. We are having a 40C day and things are wilting, Linda.

    After a tumultuous Christmas and dear Helvi recovering from 11day hospital stay as a result of chemotherapy, things will soon get back to normal.

    I will start watering the garden tonight.

    1. I’d wondered about your absence, Gerard. Of course I’d attributed it to general holiday frivolity, which hardly was the case. Give Helvi my best, and my best to you, too. It sounds as though you’re both at home now; I certainly hope life can settle a bit, and that Helvi does well.

      Your mention of 40C is a reminder of how great the differences between the northern and southern latitudes can be. While we’re celebrating getting above freezing, you’re headed for the water hose to guard against heat wilt. Water on!

  2. When I first see early jonquils, I feel the worst of the winter is past…. a delusion, but it helps.
    Glad you got out to the refuge, and found this flower waiting for you :-)

    1. It was one of those days when we didn’t know what to expect. A combination of controlled burns, freezing weather, and normal seasonal change had left things a bit bedraggled. The birds were mostly beyond the reach of my lens, so it was delightful to find a few flowers left over from the fall, and this pretty little over-achiever along a ditch. I’m hoping to get back out today, solo, rather than with friends. I enjoy the company, but, for whatever reason, I never do my best photography when others are around.

        1. Even when people are entirely accomodating and insist that it’s fine to dally, after a few shots it’s often clear that they really do want to move on. Divided attention can be an issue, too. Chatty conversation and concentration don’t combine well: at least, for me.

    1. The flower and the bracts do look like they’re being wrapped in the leaves like a blanket. I thought the most interesting detail was the edge of the leaves. They’re clearly cold-nipped, but their color complements the flower beautifully. When the landscape is generally drab, a spot of color like this really shines.

          1. I believe nature is always trying to find a balance, no matter what the situation. I think trying to compensate for 8 billion humans and all the damage they can cause have put these systems into high-gear. IMO

    1. These don’t generally bloom until around March, so this one’s quite early. I hope you get a little hint of things to come in your own part of the world — like early snowdrops, or hyacinth, or daffodils.

    1. I think we’ve just been given a great example of a precocious plant. I’m used to seeing early bloomers after a stretch of warm weather, but the refuge had more snow than we did, and certainly plenty of below freezing temperatures. On the other hand, I think of Indian paintbrush as one of the hardiest plants, and this one certainly proves it.

  3. It’s always a treat for the eyes to come across the first early blooms isn’t it? I noticed crocus pushing up through the leaves today, they will be out soon by the looks of things, I was surprised to see them, especially as it’s so cold around

    1. Aren’t snowdrops one of your earliest flowers? The name certainly suggests it, although when I lived up north I remember seeing daffodils and tulips pushing through snow, too. We didn’t have crocus, but a friend on the east coast has shown photos of them in late snow, too. It is a treat to see them; there’s no question about that.

  4. Nature in all of her glory. Paint Brush is one of my favorite flowers and can grow in some fairly extreme conditions. My thoughts have turned to you Linda and my other friends and family living in the south and east as we face yet another balmy 50 degree day. I’ve noticed our white oaks are beginning to show tiny buds. –Curt

    1. Ha! We hit 68F today, and we’re still at 60. This is pure Texas weather — swinging from one extreme to another. We’re going to have a decent, 40s/60s week, and then back down. This will go one for a while, until suddenly it’s summer and everyone says, “Wait — isn’t it early for this?”

      It’s interesting to see the various paintbrushes. We have three species, I believe, but look at how many are listed on the BONAP maps. Some are shown in only one state, but a cursory glance seems to show several species in your area. I’m anxious to see what happens on the prairies and refuges where so much burning has taken place. Some of those areas were thick with paintbrush a couple of years ago. I hope they come back.

      1. Thanks, Linda. Those maps were impressive. With all of my wandering in wild areas throughout North America, I’ve certainly see a variety, but I didn’t have an idea that there were so many.
        As for the fires, I would suspect the answer is yes, they will return. I am always amazed at how quickly things grow back. Case in point, Peggy and I were wandering up on Mt. St. Helens a few years back through areas that were absolutely devastated by the volcano. There were wild flowers everywhere, including paint brush! –Curt

        1. You’re absolutely right, about the ability of plants to regenerate. Still, one of the mysteries I’ve found is that a certain flower may show up in abundance in a particular spot for a year or two, and then suddenly not appear. There are reasons, no doubt — but what they are, I can’t say. It adds to the fun, and sometimes to the frustration.

  5. Very nice to see this colorful little paintbrush. Round Boston, I think even Jack Frost and his magic paintbrush have croaked. So for now, we’ll have to content ourselves with ice blue crystals, rosy cheeks, red noses. :)

    1. Every time I turn around I’m reading about another bit of chaos added to the pile — although, to be sure, it’s mostly in NYC. The latest was a broken pipe that was flooding the international terminal at JFK. We may think we have it bad down here, but we don’t have it NYC bad, or Boston bad, for that matter.

      Blue crystals, rosy cheeks, and red noses are just fine. As long as you stay away from the yellow snow, you’ll do fine.

  6. Linda, I can’t think of a single month in the year when I haven’t seen a paintbrush somewhere in this county. Nice capture…

    1. I might not have believed you a year or two ago, but this past year I’ve seen so many flowers that were “early” or “late” it’s become clear that they’re working on their schedule, and not ours. This weekend there still was one blooming clump of camphor daisy to go along with the paintbrush, and both were delightful after so many gloomy days.

    1. Exactly so — and if spring decides to arrive a bit early this year, who’s going to complain? We’ve had fires, floods, and pestilence of various sorts in the past year; some pretty flowers and fresh breezes would be nice.

    1. You know, there’s an area near me that had roses last summer, until they faded away. Last week, after our snow and cold weather, they were in full bloom again. I know nothing about roses, but I know it was great to see them. I need to go by for another look; they’re the prettiest salmon color.

      Whatever you end up with from that mix, I’ll bet it’s going to be fun to watch them grow.

  7. How optimistic and delightful! Wish we in the Midwest could say the same. However, today’s foggy with temps in the 30s so that’s a HUGE improvement from the sub-zero stuff we’ve been having. (Not that spring will spring anytime soon, ha!)

    1. Despite being so cold in December, we still haven’t had what I call the winter “drearies” — those gray, gloomy days that just go on and on. Still, I was more than happy to see this little gem, and to get its photo without putting my knee (or worse) in the fireants that had it surrounded. There were mosquitos out, too. Everyone claims that freezes will kill them off, but our below-freezing days didn’t get them all.

  8. It’s funny, but as soon as January begins, things seem to change. It’s got to be partly psychological! In any case, the Song Sparrows have started singing here – what a difference that makes! Birdsong just lights the world up. It will be more than two months here before Spring is clearly happening, but on the way, there are so,so many small signs to see, and once the first one arrives, I’m primed! ;-)

    1. I was primed, too, but Winter is making a last stand here this morning. It’s sleeting right now, and earlier rain has meant iced-up roads. A friend one county over, where I found this Indian paintbrush, is reporting snow. We’re heading for the twenties tonight — I suspect this little gem, and the goldenrod I found this weekend will be retreating before the onslaught. On the other hand, this is exactly what winter in coastal Texas was like when I first moved here. Since I can stay inside with hot tea and pretty pictures, it’s all good!

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