Nature’s Sanctuary

 

Leaves of cedar elm and Chinese tallow, combined with the bright red berries of yaupon, glow in the late, low afternoon sunlight, their panoply of color providing the backdrop for a young tree branch — perhaps American beech.

The effect is as pleasing as any stained glass window: a perfect complement to nature’s sanctuary.

 

Comments always are welcome.

A New Year? Time to Start Hopping

 

At first it was only the palmetto leaf, a bit of crisp variety along the edge of the tangled, soggy slough, that caught my attention. Then, I noticed a smooth patch of green lying on the leaf. Moving closer, still uncertain of its identity, I reached out to touch one end, and it woke up.

The patch of green turned out to be an inch-long tree frog — Hyla cinerea — napping in the sunlight. A nocturnal creature that spends most of the night seeking out insects in swamps, sloughs, and stream edges, it had just settled down for a short winter’s nap when I showed up.

It surprised me that the frog didn’t hop away; only later did I learn that green tree frogs often walk, rather than leaping. After one good stretch, the frog moved a bit farther up the leaf and then settled in again, apparently willing to tolerate a curious human visitor.

Getting eye-to-eye with the creature, I asked, “Are you ready for the new year?” I swear I saw him smile as he asked in return, “Are you?”

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

Springing Forward

During my years in Iowa, spring meant forsythia, pussy willow, violets, and tulips. Once I moved to Texas, I learned to love bluebonnets: a flower with one of the best marketing teams in the business. Together with Indian paintbrush, bluebonnets define the season for most people, and the ritual of being photographed in a field of the flowers is well-established.

But spring in Texas is more than bluebonnets. These delights, found in and around the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge on February 25, show the bold, colorful, and sometimes prickly side of a spring that’s already arrived.

The blue form of scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis f. azurea) is a lovely variation on a sometimes red or orange flower that’s native to Europe and parts of Asia, but which has naturalized worldwide. Continue reading