The Color Peddler


In rural Texas, anyone inclined toward roads less traveled eventually notices cultural differences as well as changes in the landscape. On farm-to-market and county roads — paved or unpaved, usually numbered but sometimes named — you can travel for miles or days without seeing a single Amazon Prime delivery van or a Tesla. Pickups and cattle trailers abound; sometimes, working cowboys on live horses supplant horsepower.

Fairly well off the beaten path during my recent explorations, I discovered a hand-lettered sign saying “No Peddlers’ tacked to a fence. The old-fashioned word triggered memories of peddlers from my childhood, although in those years the term ‘peddler’ had been upgraded to ‘door-to-door salesman’ in towns. Still, peddlers they were: working the neighborhoods with their encyclopedias, cooking pots, or vacuum cleaners, hoping to close a sale or two before day’s end.

I couldn’t help being curious about the person who posted the sign, or what sort of visitor had occasioned it. No doubt too many peddlers could be annoying, but my grandmother regularly welcomed a fellow who sold sewing notions: threads of every sort, lace trims, needles and pins.

He also carried a heavy book filled with fabric swatches like those still used for wallpaper or upholstery samples. Once home, I couldn’t help seeing the assortment of floral landscapes I’d photographed as swatches of color, or thinking of nature as a peddler of sorts — roaming the countryside and showing off her wares. Personally, I’m more than willing to invest in them, especially since this year’s offerings have been of exceptional quality.

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush ~ Lavaca County
Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Huisache Daisy ~ Goliad County
Phlox and Texas Toadflax ~ Gonzales County
    Bluebonnets, Huisache Daisy ~ Goliad CountyIndian Paintbrush, Huisache Daisy ~ Goliad County
Bluebonnets, Pink Phlox ~ Aransas County
Texas Groundsel, Mixed Phlox, Bluebonnets ~ Gonzales County
Red and Pink Phlox, Texas Toadflax ~ Gonzales County


Comments always are welcome.
And if you should have the impulse to get out and about, looking for spring color, for heaven’s sake don’t hesitate.

Jeremiah, Is That You?


One of my greatest frustrations over the years has been an inability to see big frogs in the ponds and sloughs I visit. I often hear them — their croaks, and their splashy retreats into water — but I never have seen more than the ripples they leave behind.

That ended last weekend at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge. Standing on a bridge that crosses a pond, I was idly scanning the water when I noticed a bit of bright green. Looking closer, I realized it wasn’t another clump of algae. It was a frog; even better, it was a frog who seemed willing to tolerate my presence.

After a few photos, I realized the frog wasn’t about to move, so I moved to a different vantage point on the bridge, where I was able to catch this wonderfully typical froggy expression.

Eventually, a noisy conflict between two bull alligators caused the frog to disappear into the reeds, but I had my photos. Only two days earlier, on March 3, I had expressed my hope to Steve Gingold, frog photographer extraordinare, that this year I finally would find a bullfrog. On March 5, I did just that.

Leaving the refuge, I was filled with the kind of joy that only a true Jeremiah could evoke. I’d gone for flowers, but found a bullfrog. It seemed a fair trade, and reason enough to break into the song that you know.


Comments always are welcome.

Spring, Sprung


Colorful. Chaotic. Compelling. That’s spring in Texas, and the season is upon us. Last weekend, I traveled through a portion of the state to see what I could see. What I saw included familiar flowers (bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush), some personal favorites (white prickly poppies and fringed puccoon), some unfamiliar blooms, and an out-of-this world photographic experience at a famous Texas shrine that gave new life to Oat Willie’s cry: “Onward, through the fog.”

Uncertain how to begin sharing such riches, I decided this mixed bouquet would make a fine start. Bluebonnets, yellow huisache daisy, Indian paintbrush, and a tiny bit of pink Lindheimer’s beeblossom frame the single magenta winecup. Needless to say, this wildflower lover’s cup is overflowing.


Comments always are welcome.

The Best Little B&B in Texas

Early buttercup (Ranunculus fascicularis) with sleeping bee


After a long day of foraging, what bee wouldn’t enjoy the opportunity to take its ease on a buttercup’s petals, or to indulge in complimentary pollen once it awoke?

This bee continued to sleep until increasing sunlight and warmth caused it to stir, shake its wings, and fly off. Perhaps it had reservations at an equally elegant and well-appointed buttercup down the road.


Comments always are welcome.

Pink, Pinker, Pinkiest

Eager for spring’s bold primary colors — Bluebonnets, red Indian Paintbrush, yellow Buttercups and Butterweed — it can be easy to overlook the season’s  pastels. Pink, lavender, and white flowers are blooming, emerging, or already fading. It’s time to catch them, before they’re gone.

Ten-petal anemone ~ Anemone berlandieri
Brazoria Wildlife Refuge

For years, I found only white ten-petal anemones at the Brazoria refuge. This year, to my great delight, a large colony of pink-tinged flowers appeared. The common name for this member of the buttercup family is doubly misleading, since the plant has sepals rather than petals, and the number of sepals varies widely. Some flowers have as few as six or seven sepals, while others may have more than twenty.

Like other Anemone species, this Texas native sometimes goes by the name ‘windflower.’ As with dandelions, its seeds are spread by the wind, and many already have gone to seed.

Carolina Geranium ~ Geranium carolinianum
Follett’s Island, Brazoria County

Having been raised with big, red geraniums that spent their lives in pots, meeting the Carolina Geranium — another member of the Cranesbill family — was quite a surprise. Its flowers are only 1/4″ to 3/8″ across, and the plant itself rarely exceeds a foot in height. Where it’s allowed to flourish, it blooms prolifically, and attracts a variety of small bees, flies, and other insects.

Pink evening primrose ~ Oenothera speciosa
Vacant League City lot

When I photographed this pretty pink primrose near my home, it was the first I’d seen in this spring season. Today, small clusters of the flowers have appeared in unmown spots around town; before long, they’ll be covering fields and ditches with a lovely mixture of pink and white blooms. Given their enthusiastic spread and their ability to leave great swaths of land ‘in the pink,’ it’s easy to think of them as the ‘pinkiest’ of our spring wildflowers.

Comments always are welcome.