Time to Fly!

The Judith River ~ Central Montana

Even if I managed to get to central Montana and found a pilot willing to skim his airplane along a sinuous river, I’m more accustomed to seeking ground-level views of flora and fauna: better to leave an overview of the landscape to the professionals.

That said, I have this fine Tom Petty song on my road trip playlist, and I know where to find an equally fine landscape. There’s little traffic between here and there, leaving room to do a little flying of my own.

There’s still a world to be enjoyed and explored ~  find a way to do some flying yourself!

 

Comments always are welcome.

Flown Away

Nanci Griffith ~ July 6, 1953 – August 13, 2021

 

Gulf coast highway, he worked the rails;
He worked the rice fields with their cold, dark wells;
He worked the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico;
The only thing we’ve ever owned is this old house here by the road.
And when he dies he says he’ll catch some blackbird’s wing
And we will fly away to heaven
Come some sweet bluebonnet spring.
She walked through springtime when I was home;
The days were sweet, our nights were warm;
The seasons changed, the jobs would come,
The flowers fade, and this old house felt so alone
When the work took me away.
And when she dies she says she’ll catch some blackbird’s wing
And she will fly away to heaven
Come some sweet bluebonnet spring
Highway 90, the jobs are gone;
We tend our garden, we set the sun;
This is the only place on Earth bluebonnets grow,
And once a year they come and go
At this old house here by the road.
And when we die we say we’ll catch some blackbird’s wing
And we will fly away to heaven
Come some sweet bluebonnet spring.
Yes when we die we say we’ll catch some blackbird’s wing
And we will fly away together
Come some sweet bluebonnet spring.
                   “Gulf Coast Highway” ~ Nanci Griffith, James Hooker, Danny Flowers

 

Comments always are welcome.

Stars on the Water

Brazos River backwaters flowing into a culvert along Cow Creek Road ~ Brazoria County

It’s rare for sights along a Texas country road to evoke memories of Louisiana dancehalls, the simple pleasures of Atchafalaya nights, or Rodney Crowell’s perfect lyrics, but these ‘stars’ did just that. Unfortunately, my favorite Angelle’s Whiskey River Landing is closed, but music still flows ‘down da bayou,’ and the dancers still sparkle.

Down in Louisiana, bayous by and by
A pirogue pole or your natural soul
Keeps you tied to a tree high tide
Beer joint lights come on
And then the crowd starts rollin’ in ~
Pretty soon you got stars on the water
Feels just like stars on the water
You got stars on the water when it rains…

 

(Click arrow to play; click here for full lyrics)

 

Comments always are welcome.

Willie Nelson’s Birthday Thistle

When I found this so-called horrid thistle (Cirsium horridulum) in a pasture down the road, only three disc florets had begun to emerge. It looked so much like a birthday cake with candles that I decided to save the photo for just the right occasion.

Yesterday, that occasion arrived; it was Willie Nelson’s birthday. But we’re not late to the party, since Willie claims today as his birthday, too. Despite being born on April 29 — 88 years ago, now — the Abbott, Texas county courthouse didn’t record his just-before-midnight birth until the next morning, making April 30 his second birthday. At least that’s Willie’s story, and he’s sticking to it.

This thistle is the perfect birthday flower for a character like Willie. It’s a Texas native, prickly around the edges, but with a pink or yellow flower as soft and sweet as his heart. The bees may seem to be overindulging in its pollen from time to time, but they know how to party: just like Willie and Waylon and the boys.

Everyone changes over time, and Willie’s no exception. The ‘Outlaw’ country sound of the ’70s and ’80s may have become the more reflective tunes of today, but it’s still Willie singing, and there’s nothing horrid about that.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

Spring Song

Part of the Lamiaceae, or mint family, lyre-leaf sage grows from a small basal rosette of dark green leaves. Oval and somewhat hairy, the leaves eventually develop purple stems, edges, and veins, as well as deep lobes suggesting the shape of the musical instrument known as the lyre. In 1753, that resemblance led Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus to name the plant Salvia lyrata.

The plant also develops square, hairy stalks from one to three feet tall. Essentially leafless, the stalks fill with buds which go on to bloom from the bottom to the top, attracting a wide range of bees and butterflies with their nectar. Sometimes a single plant produces multiple stems, and while the stems aren’t framed by the leaves, it still can be fun to imagine them as the ‘strings’ of a lyre.

Last week, when I found this plant along a roadside near Santa Fe, Texas, the curved and visually pleasing stem also suggested a plucked lyre string; it reminded me of The Epitaph of Seikilos — the oldest complete musical composition in existence.

Engraved on a stele (or gravestone) almost two millennia ago in the town of Tralles, near modern-day Aydin in Turkey, it is signed from Seikilos to Euterpe, who may have been his wife. Discovered in 1883, the stele passed from hand to hand for years, until it was reclaimed from an owner who was using it as a pedestal for a flower pot. Today, it resides in the National Museum of Denmark.

Signs and symbols included on the stele indicate the melody, which musicologists have transcribed into modern notation. Here, one translation of the words, combined with the sound of the lyre, recall love’s flowering.

While you’re alive, shine;
never let your mood decline.
We’ve a brief span of life to spend;
Time necessitates an end.

Comments always are welcome.