Can You Blame Me?


Can you blame me for not wanting to sit indoors and type? It doesn’t usually look like this in April.After a winter during which we had zero ice in the birdbaths ever, the gardens are already out of control. It’s virtually impossible to stay in the house when every time I turn around there are more flowers to appreciate.

I can happily report that at long last the pomegranate in the sidewalk garden has decided to bear fruit! Those dark red-orange flowers make me happy even if I’m not particularly interested in eating pomegranates. If any of the fruit survives without splitting open too early, I’ll bring them to a neighbor who has two macaws – nothing like pomegranate juice sprayed as far as the eye can see.

If for no other reason than to justify my slacker writing habits, I’m just going to take you on a walk around the yard so you can see what I spend my days gawking at. Freesia, for example, the brilliant orange ones so fragrant Floyd couldn’t endure them in the house.

DSC_0119Or how about the amaryllis in the front yard, just two varieties, while all over the neighborhood there are amaryllis in so many colors and stripes?

DSC_0150In March and early April there were bearded iris, so obliging in the cool spring that they didn’t bloom all at once but in fours and fives over several weeks.

IMG_0835As you can see we’ve had plenty of rain. In fact, the lakes are now full – an astonishing truth after years of drought. It’s been such an oppressive dry spell that the other day I watched a video of the floodgates being opened at the Mansfield Dam for the first time in years. I had to laugh – the video was a whole lot of nothing for quite a few minutes, then a long siren, some more nothing, then water pouring through one square in the center of a vast concrete wall. Could not believe how long I watched the thing.

But rain also means wildflowers. Acres and acres and miles and miles of bluebonnets, paintbrushes, primroses, poppies, Indian blankets… Go check out professional photos of central Texas wildflowers, because my landscape photos never do them justice. It really is a sight to see, whether by the mile or by the blossom.

DSC_0153It never ceases to amaze me that I can throw out a few handfuls of seed around Halloween and a few months later find new surprises every time I walk out.

DSC_0160In the herb garden, the curly parsley is thick and bushy, ready for butterflies to lay their eggs. I keep flat-leaf parsley in another bed for cooking purposes. There are flowers in the herb garden too, like the strawflowers I picked up at The Natural Gardener when my best girl Mary was here for a visit. I just love strawflowers. Their blossoms are as stiff as if they were cut from plastic, so they sit obligingly still for a close-up even on a breezy day.

DSC_0109In the sidewalk garden there’s one bed that doesn’t get full sun all day. It’s a good place for things like the iris and spirea that flowers before the trees leaf out; Turks’ Cap, fond of the shade; and delicate little things like this perennial geranium that sends out flowers the size of my little finger’s nail.

DSC_0162See, that’s what really takes up so much of the time that could be put to use writing: I have to look at all the things about 100 times a day so I won’t miss anything. Succulent flowers may be very small and hidden under leaves that protect them from the scorching sun; they may take weeks to finally open; but when they do, I really don’t want to miss them.

DSC_0094Meanwhile in the sidewalk garden, the Lion’s Tail is in bloom. This one sits tall alongside a formidable agave and a wild lantana I’m shaping into a tree. One of the most fun aspects of a year without a freeze is that the wild lantana have such a headstart, and there are so many of them, I can experiment with shaping them into trees like the unruly gardener I am. Or does that make me a ruly gardener instead?

DSC_0154All the shrubs and trees have put forth flowers, it seems; some sweet, some pungent and reminiscent of every grandmother’s side yard. These days they are all abuzz with hundreds of honeybees. It’s as if the foliage was charged with electricity and humming. Even if the little bees won’t take the time to pose for a photo like strawflowers will, I like to notice whatever flowers the landscape is offering up. I figure it’s the least I can do.

DSC_0129So there you have it: just a few of the attention-grabbers I deal with every day while I’m not writing or folding laundry. Travis and I have also been giving as much time as possible to hiking in the greenbelt. We have our favorite route down to the creek and back, and I’ve even been throwing some trail-jogging into the mix. I love taking up a sport that may involve an emergency trip to the dentist! (See, I know for a fact that I will fall; and I’m betting my lunch money that it will be in a downhill direction on a rocky stretch.)

But then we get down to the creek, and the water is running fast, and there are sticks to throw and a border collie to chase them, and we’re doing the only things in the world that we feel like doing right then, right there.

IMG_0665Can you blame me?

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