Sunday, February 06, 2011

Nature's Wintry Gifts

our rig under apx 5" of snow
Despite our best intentions to escape winter, cold weather followed us everywhere during our month-long sojourn through the southeastern United States.  Stalked us, to use a plant metaphor.  Most days we had glorious weather as we wandered along the Gulf Coast from South Padre Island, TX, to Key West, FL.  But then -- snap -- the temperature would drop, and off we would go to points farther south.  By the end of January we had completed our "Border of Blue" tour and were racing back to DFW-Denton to teach a course at the Dallas Arboretum about landscaping to attract and sustain wildlife.  The weather here was spring-like: sunny and 70s with a light breeze...until the day we made the final push across Texas...As we trudged north from Corpus Christi, it seemed like the weather grew more bitter, degree by degree, with every mile.  By the time we reached south Dallas ice had been on the ground for hours but roadways were still slick.  Vehicles spun out all around us.  Some unfortunate motorists became stuck on overpass ramps, and they slipped around on foot after abandoning their cars tethered to the guard rail.  It was a frightful experience.  And a bit annoying; the stow-away known as Old Man Winter had been travelling with us, uninvited, for far too long.  But we did it, we really survived the harrowing drive to reach our destination.  Everybody hunkered down inside our camper for a few days. 
Coralberry, Symphoricarpus orbiculatus

David revised a design or two and continued working on a draft of another.  We talked about improving our presentation for Saturday's class at the Dallas Arboretum.  Brainstormed about improving our website and making our services more efficient, more appealing to audiences of all ages.  Nobody felt "cooped up" because we were making good use of the time.  Our class ultimately was cancelled due to inclement weather; look for an announcement about a rescheduled date and time.  After two days the air warmed, sun smiled, and frozen stuff began to melt.  Outside, finally.  We enjoyed playing in the snow with Sage -- her first interaction with the cold white stuff. 

Coralberry with Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis)
Plentiful plants are putting on a show now.  Possumhaw and coralberry display vibrant berries against the bright white blanket enveloping them.  Native possumhaw (Ilex decidua) berries may be red to orange, sometimes yellow; coralberry (Symphoricarpus orbiculatus) berries are fuschia.  Tiny sprigs of Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) have emerged and look ready to do their thing soon.  Patience!  Grasses, like Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis), are wearing their tan winter clothes.  Birds peck seed-treats from the melting snow but so far no signs of other wildlife.  When you plant native plants, every season boasts abundant beauty. 

Give us warm weather and high humidity, and we feel comfortable.  Give us arctic blasts of snow and ice, and we still find ways to give thanks for nature's gifts.  Throw another log on the fire.  Celebrate your time is precious.  Bundle up, y'all.  Don't forget to check out our adventure blog for more tales of our mobile lifestyle that allows us to together.  Go to!
Grasses in Dallas' wintry garden

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