Waiting for ‘Fall Day’

  Brazoria Wildlife Refuge ~ September 19

Eric Berger and Matt Lanza, two of Houston’s most trusted meteorologists, maintain a website called Space City Weather. Yesterday, Eric wrote:

A few years ago Dan Reilly, the warning coordination meteorologist at the local National Weather Service, and I were discussing fall cool fronts. We agreed the first day it truly felt like fall in Houston should be a holiday.
Every year since, Space City Weather has designated the first day it will truly feel like ‘fall’ in Houston as Fall Day. This year, that day comes on Wednesday, September 22, after a front moves through overnight and brings much cooler and drier air to the region. It may not be an official holiday, but it sure should be one after we survive summer.

‘Survival’ seems precisely the right term. As August drags into September, the combined pressures of heat, humidity, and hurricanes weigh ever more heavily. Memories of our extraordinary February freeze began to fade in the rising summer heat, just as the browns and grays of a stunned landscape turned once again to green.

Wolf Lake ~ February 28
Big Slough ~ August 8
Teal Pond ~ June 13

Despite our eagerness for autumn, summer’s greens — along with summer’s heat and humidity — will linger into October. But a freshening breeze from the north will make the waiting more bearable, and the first hints of color will make the summer that remains even sweeter. It’s a happy coincidence that this year’s ‘Fall Day’ will occur on the autumn equinox. We’re ready.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Budding Blue, Blooming Blue

more quiet than dawn
faint ripples of lavender
summer’s sweet ending

 

silent explosion
splitting the green-starred darkness
a whiff of blue scent

 

Comments always are welcome.
A Texas native, the blue water lily (Nymphaea elegans) blooms in spring and summer. These were found at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge on September 5.

To A Sunflower

A hint of autumn ~ Maximilian Sunflower

When I discovered the first Maximilian sunflowers of the season — a sure sign of autumn despite our current heat and humidity — my first thought echoed the first line of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “To a Skylark.”  I had fun adapting some stanzas for the flowers; you can read the original poem here.

Hail to thee, blithe Flower!
Weed thou never wert
That from Heaven, or near it,
Shinest thy full rays
In spreading gleams of unpremeditated art.
A continuation of summer ~ Common Sunflower
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a blaze of fire;
The blue sky thou seekest,
And seeking still dost grow, and growing ever singest.
Maximilian sunflower with Black-eyed Susans
In the golden lightning
Of the sinking sun,
O’er which clouds are bright’ning,
Thou dost bloom and run;
Like unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

 

Comments always are welcome.

An Especially Black-Eyed Susan

As summer deepens, many plants are completing their life cycles; this Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) on the Brazos Bend State Park prairie was well along in the process when I found it on the morning of July 11.

Despite being surrounded by still-blooming companions, it not only had dried and formed seeds, it also was providing support for a tendril from an unidentified plant. The combination of brown, red, and black, as well as the intricacy of the tendril’s growth, pleased me as much as the bright yellow flowers surrounding it.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

A Sure Sign of Summer

If I’m lucky, this Prairie Gentian will be only the first of many that I’ll find this year. Its scientific name, Eustoma exaltatum, points both to its ‘large-mouthed’ appearance (Eustoma) and to its height (exaltatum).  Other common names — Catchfly Prairie Gentian, Bluebell Gentian, and Seaside Gentian — all apply to this showy, purple-to-lavender flower that occasionally appears in white.

Before its flowers appear, the plant easily is identified by grayish-green, oppositely-arranged leaves that clasp the stems. Tolerant of salt and with a preference for moist conditions, the it can be found in salt marshes, wet prairies, and coastal flats from Florida through Texas, to California and northward.

A large colony of these flowers on the west end of Galveston Island fell first to the mowers and then to the developers, but this single bloom at the side of a west end road whispered a message: “Get thee to Brazoria County. I have friends there.”

Who could ignore a message from a flower?

 

Comments always are welcome.