Friday, April 20, 2007

More Wild Flowers

Indian Blankets

Wild Verbena

Is this what happened to Sherwood Forest?

You never know what you will see going down the road around here.

There is a large meadow (and former music venue) near my home that is being paved over to make room for a shopping center. Acres and acres are being scraped clean of the natural vegetation. I was delighted today to see this tree being moved. It is a huge live oak that is most likely a hundred years or more old. The band of fabric around the bottom is about five feet high.
I have no idea where the tree's journey will end but I hope it thrives there. There were two smaller trees next to it that are probably part of its hammock. I hope the movers come back for them.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Good Stuff

I am often asked about the books that I read so I have started a new blog just to list them along with music and films that I find comforting or inspiring. The new blog is "Things I Put in My Head." Enjoy and feel free to may suggestions regarding books, films and musici we might all like.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

They have moved on

We haven't seen the hawks in about a week now. The nest is still in the tree. I think that it must be a squirrel's nest and that the hawks were making snacks out of the baby squirrels. I know that the hawks are still in the general vicinity. I am glad that they were here to welcome us into the new house.

I don't know if the squirrel babies are still there. It is hard to see the nest now that the trees are in full leaf. Most of the trees surrounding our house are live oaks. This means that they lose their leaves in March. They are very modest trees in that they are never completely naked. They start to bloom before all their leaves fall. During this time, you can see through the limbs, but they are not completely bare. It was during this time that we were able to see the nest. Now it is obscured by the new leaves and any little tree rats in the nest are safe from predators such as hawks and crows.

There are still quite a few crows and grackles around. They mess up my car almost every night. (I need to finish working on the antique wash stand that I am restoring so I can get it out of the garage and put my car in it.) Grackles are the scourge of cities in this area. They migrated from Mexico a few years ago and never left. They stay in the live oaks in the winter and in every other tree the rest of the year. There are places downtown where you cannot walk under the trees without holding your breath due to the stench of their waste. photo by Mary Beth Snow
It made national news in January when dozens of them were found dead on Congress Avenue in the wee hours of the morning. It was the first day of our legislative session. Parts of downtown were shut down until the bodies could be removed and it was decided that the air was safe. Later it was found that they had a virus and the cold weather stressed them too much. There has been one other similar incident since then but the street were not shut down. The bizarre thing is that developers are planning new projects downtown and are touting the trees they will plant as making the developments "green". No one is thinking about how many more birds these new trees will attract.

We have beautiful grounds around our state capitol building which sits in the middle of town. A few years ago, a red tail hawk took up residence there and began feeding on the plentiful pigeons. I wish hawks ate grackles.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Our New Neighbors

We are being blessed with presence of a pair of red tail hawks who are nesting somewhere near by. The female is the largest hawk I have ever seen. The male is somewhat smaller. We think that the nest is in a tree that hangs over our garage. We hear them calling and screeching as they defend it from crows and other would be predators. We have spotted a nest high up in the tree on the side away from the woods. It will take more observation to be sure it is where they are nesting. They also spend a lot of time in a tree in the yard of the house two lots to the north of us.

We moved into this house two weeks ago. Our large backyard backs up to a dense wood. The house was built in a grove of live oak trees, which surround it, letting very little sunshine into the yard. Although there was much sadness and distress here for many years, the trees and the grove have a magically peaceful feel. The arrival of the hawks reinforces the feeling.

I have always had an affinity for hawks. They are my primary totem animals and I am always more “me” when they are around. I will try to get some photos of them and of the fledges if possible. Maybe they will leave me a feather or two.

Persephone's Smile

After looking the other way the past two years, Persephone is smiling on central Texas as she emerges from the underworld. Demeter’s tears of joy at the reunion with her daughter are filling our almost dry lakes. The multicolored cloths of their picnic are scattered on the hills in ever changing patterns.

We cherish spring in the Texas hills because we don’t have it every year. The past two years Hades has tried to follow his part time lover and been stopped here where he has decided to fume and wait for her until mid October. It has gone from winter to 80 and 90-degree days in March and has gotten hotter as the summer has worn on. Our lake levels have been at record lows and our summer temperatures have been at record highs. We were even betrayed by El Nino` last winter when he sent us no rain.

Now spring is here and seems to be sticking around long enough for us to become reacquainted. We are extremely grateful.