Nature, Singing

Tucked between red-clad Santas and decorated evergreens, this very late rain lily (Zephyranthes candida) bloomed in the San Bernard refuge butterfly garden long after many of its kind had called it a season.

Graced with the colors of Christmas and petals suggesting the open receptiveness of a child, it recalls the words of the beloved carol:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare him room
and heaven and nature sing…

Remarkably, we don’t sing, “Joy to human beings, joy to those who walk upright and drive cars and open too many credit card accounts and are nasty to their neighbors.” We don’t sing “Joy to the church-goers, the faithful, the few.”

The joy we sing is meant for the whole world: for stars and dirt; mountains and seas; trees, rocks, valleys and hills, and every creature inhabiting them. At Christmas, heaven and nature sing out this truth: the gifts of the season are meant for the world as a whole. We who inhabit that world, who trace a path upon its soil and gaze upon its stars are called to sing its praises, too, and join in its celebration.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Arrivederci, Aster

 

Asters collectively linger through autumn as other, more sensitive plants succumb to lower temperatures and lessened light, but the life span of individual flowers is relatively short.

Seen against the glow of a Gulf Coast camphor daisy, this tiny, half-inch wide aster already has begun the transition to seed head. The tendency of its ray flowers to resemble curled ribbons on a special package brought to mind a different title for this post, but ‘curl up and die’ seemed unkind. An affectionate and alliterative ‘arrivederci’ seemed better, although it will be other asters arriving to decorate next year’s spring.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Lingering Lavender

Winged loosestrife (Lythrum alatum) ~ Brazoria Wildlife Refuge

Australian blogging friend eremophila recently coined the phrase ‘Sprummer Downunder’ — her way of acknowledging that spring and summer sometimes can be hard to separate from one another.

Seasons never are as clear-cut as the human invention known as daylight saving time. As the northern hemisphere moves toward winter, I responded to her ‘Sprummer’ with ‘Sumtumn,’ my own invented word for the mixing of summer and autumn.

Silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) ~ Galveston Island

Many of our summer flowers do persist into fall, and even into winter. I’ve found asters of various sorts blooming in January after three days of freezing temperatures. Each of the native flowers shown here continues to flourish despite shortening days and colder temperatures, and while the loosestrife surely will fade soon, I expect to see the asters and nightshade for many more weeks.

Perennial saltmarsh aster (Symphyotrichum tenuifolium) ~ Seabrook, Texas

Combined with the bright yellows and golds of sunflowers and goldenrod, autumn’s lavenders and purples — berries as well as flowers — are as much a sign of the season as falling leaves. Best of all, they’re willing to stay with us for a while.

 

Comments always are welcome.