Ever since last month’s ice storm, the surviving birds have been in search of food. Normally at this time of year, trees would be budding, flowers blooming in the sea of verdant spring to which we are accustomed. Not this year. Everything is dead or brown. Or both. Our palm tree lost all its dozen fronds. Our oaks remain frozen in time, covered in ugly brown leaves that will not fall. The earth itself doesn’t know what season it is. It’s the ugliest I’ve ever seen Texas in my life because it was the coldest and the iciest it had ever been.
However, the cottonwood tree has begun putting out these yellow pods, for which the birds have gone crazy.
I’ve never seen so many birds on the branches of our cottonwood before. They stay for several minutes, then fly off, just as another drove comes to feast.
I do hope things will soon return to normal, in every sense of the word.
Y’all, the horehound has not lessened up around here. In fact, the highways are flanked by even thicker and pinkier/purplier horehound than ever. It’s the horehoundiest season that Texas has ever seen, no doubt. The more I see them, the more they remind me of my Swiffer hand dusters, narrow enough to get to even the most trapped dust.
I’m not exaggerating when I say the bees have been swarming our holly bushes by the hundreds, maybe thousands. As soon as we open the front door, we can hear their deafening buzz, trying to avoid their erratic trails as they flit from blossom to blossom.
And while I do suffer from melissophobia, I know that this is good for the bees, and good for the earth. But I do count down the days till they shoo away because I HATE BEE STINGS. So I stand back and let them go at the holly bushes, ten feet wide and taller than I am.
I spent yesterday evening, pruning myriad branches in the back yard. I have no green thumb, no knowledge of correct pruning, nor any desire at all to do it the right way. All I know is there are too many branches, too many twigs, too many green sprouting leaves everywhere, and I have a pair of pruning shears. And although June in Texas is usually the last vestige of anything green before the Great Drought covers the land, I cannot entirely appreciate it, knowing that branches are toppling over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. I had no choice but to go all Edward Scissorhands on the trees, and this dragonfly stopped by to bid adieu to a fallen branch.
One thing I learned about vitex trees; you can lob off one sprouting branch, and (just like grey hairs), twenty will appear in its place. You have to be vigilant, or they sprout like crazy, winding around each other like kindergartners fighting to be first in line.
I did feel a bit sad, watching these lavender blooms fall to the earth. Oh, well.
As I passed by these pretty little things, I could hear The Judds singing:
Are the roses not blooming this morning? Has the sun lost its beautiful ray?
And of course, my response was: Actually, the roses are blooming this morning. And they are fine indeed.
In a few hours, it will be 95 degrees. I dare not doubt the weatherman’s forecast, as I just left the pre-noon outdoors, and it was already volcano-lava-hot. Any exercise must be done in the wee small hours these days.
Despite getting only three hours of sleep last night, and despite the forecast of a Martha Reeve’s heatwave, I donned my jogging apparel, headed to the local soccer park, and began climbing the hills around the perimeter.
Perhaps the path was once grassy, but now it is a knobby rubble of limestone, ripe for ankle injuries and displaced hips. Save a lone runner wearing what appeared to be a long-sleeved shirt made of shimmery black Glad trash bags ( a self-sauna?), I had the path to myself.
As I ascended, I passed evening primroses, Indian paintbrushes, and daisies, bending into candy cane shapes in the 20+ mph winds. I cinched my ballcap tighter, to the point where I almost felt I was being birthed again. Small white butterflies suddenly appeared, staying two steps ahead of me, swerving about like hybrid cars steered by texting teenagers. There must have been a half dozen of them, apparently delighted by spring. So, too, was I, inhaling the syrupy scent of wafting chinaberry blossoms. I love me some chinaberry trees!
Nearby excavators kicked up limestone dust, as they prepared yet another new subdivision, rising like weeds around here. I turned away, shielding my eyes from the dust, avoiding a head-on collision with a shrubby mesquite tree, and noticing my butterfly friends had departed.
The ridge was steep, and my quads ached, but I thought of our friends at church who do marathons in wheelchairs, and, of course, I always think of Nick Vujicic, the motivational speaker who has no limbs. It hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the beach with his wife and son.
When I got to the top, I took in the sight of rooftops stretching to the horizon. There I was, queen of all I surveyed, lording over the peasant village. It felt good, being so high above other things, looking down on the soccer fields, the tennis courts, the swimming pool (getting freshly-chlorinated), and the parking lots. Perspective changes everything.
I jogged my hour, and that was enough. I didn’t want to. But I was glad I did. Did it burn off the calories I ate in a handful of raw pistachios this morning? Probably not. But sometimes Nike is right. Just do it.