Winter Trees

On December 6, I dawdled my way to the Willow City Loop, north of Fredericksburg. Known primarily for its profusion of bluebonnets and other wildflowers in spring, it’s equally interesting in autumn and early winter. Rocks, cedars, and seedheads predominate; mistletoe and ball moss decorate bare limbs.

When I noticed the still-visible moon hanging in the sky, these lines from poet William Carlos Williams came to mind. His work titled “Winter Trees” easily divides into three haiku-like poems, as elegant as the trees they celebrate.

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Nature’s Ornament

 

While humans decorate their homes for Christmas, nature’s been busy decorating her world. On a recent trip around the Willow City Loop in Gillespie County, hints of the holiday season were everywhere.

Reddened by cold, this pad from a prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri) would look especially festive hanging from a live oak. Unfortunately, bringing it indoors to hang alongside more traditional ornaments on a fir or a spruce would be ill-advised. Some of those spines are two inches long, and believe me — they’re more Scrooge than Santa!

 

Comments always are welcome.

White-Lined Sphinx Moth: The Prequel

White-lined sphinx moth caterpillar (Hyles lineata)

When I discovered this gem trucking along a Gillespie County roadside in early May, it appeared to be headed toward a patch of pretty yellow primroses, members of the family (Onagraceae) that includes some of Hyles lineata’s favored host plants.

Their distinctive patterns, rear ‘horn,’ and dotted head and anal plate make identification of these mature caterpillars relatively easy. On the other hand, anyone who’d not yet encountered a white-lined sphinx moth browsing an evening flower garden or shady canyon creek might find it hard to imagine the result of the caterpillar’s transformation. It’s one of those remarkable stories nature’s more than happy to produce.

Adult white-lined sphinx moth feeding on wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) 

 

Comments always are welcome.
For my earlier post devoted to the white-lined sphinx moth in art and science, please click here.