Sitting here with my first cup of coffee, looking out my office window, my morning muse turns to the predominance of spring green. Even the scar left with the demolition of the old house is showing mostly green. It’s weeds of course, but, from here with a good mowing just two days ago it still looks nice.
My little niche of the Gulf Coastal ecosystem is different from most of my area. The large trees around my house are oaks, live oak and water oak, neither of which lost all of there leaves this winter. Out back I have some pines. Scattered around are a number of eastern red cedars (that really aren’t cedars), some bald cypresses, red oaks, and pecans. Only the last three trees loose their leaves in the fall. Even in the woods along Mustang Bayou, the oaks are replacing the hackberries and the Chinese tallow trees. So in a normal winter, the only way you know it is winter is by the grass being brown. This past year we saw a reversal of normal…All summer long the grass was brown due to the drought. Come winter the rains returned and the “grass” greened up and required mowing every week (never happened before).
Now the “grass” that has been so green all winter long isn’t really grass at all. Mostly it’s the early spring weeds that play havoc down here in March and April, taking over all of your flower beds as you try mightily to stay ahead of the game. This year all of those spring “weeds” began growing in November and never stopped.
Our spring story more and more these days is about the winds. They bother my wife and mother-in-law. For me they make our unseasonably warm weather palatable. These winds keep blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico. And, while they make my family uncomfortable, they are playing havoc further north and east. These Gulf winds have been getting stronger and more prevalent for the past few years, and the spring storms in the Mid-west and South-east keep getting stronger and more dangerous by the year.
Even as I sit here this morning, the sound of the wind in the trees outside is the most prevalent sound making it into this closed up house. The house is closed up because we are already at 76° here at just 9am…Care to guess what the high will be?
The Nash Prairie Preserve
I drove over to the Nash Prairie Preserve yesterday to see what early spring in the last remnant of tall-grass would look like. The feature that is beginning to emerge from my mostly monthly trip is also wind. I have never been on that four hundred acres of prairie without having almost gale force winds trying to remove my hat. Makes for tough photography. I’ll be processing the shots tomorrow, so check in at GaryBoydPhotography.com to check out the wild flowers that I found blooming.
The gestalt I came away from was that these Western Coastal Grasslands ecosystems are very subtle. No wide fields of color like you get in the bluebonnet fields further inland. Just a very diverse, dare I say low key, profusion of many different plants…some in bloom right now, some some not…spread over a large area. On both this trip and last months trip, the main flower that stood out was Indian Paintbrush.
With the coming of spring this past week or so, the massive flocks of winter birds that have been visiting my yard have dwindled to just a few permanent residents. Even so, the new house location has brought some new best friends.
Take the Carolina Wrens as an example. I do not recall ever seeing any from the old house. Now they play around all of our porches. Last week one even flew into the family room when the back door blew open in a gust of wind. I think I even have a pair nesting in an old watering bucket we have hanging from the porch of our storage building. I know if I ever heard their song and had associated it with their reddish brown coloration, I would have remembered them. Beautiful little birds with a beautiful if massive voice.
Even our winter hawks must be heading back to their summer hunting grounds. On my drive yesterday I did not see nearly as many as I saw on my Birthday Road Trip. They will be missed until their return next year.
I think it’s past time for my second cup of morning muse, so I’ll end with this…
I was reading somewhere this past week about all of the good adding a little cinnamon to your diet could do. Since we had picked up a package of cinnamon sticks (bark or whatever you call them) at Christmas as much for the smell as anything else I decided to put one in my coffee cup. I now have discovered I really like my coffee with a dash of cinnamon taste… Go figure.