Yes, she's strange and different...but not THAT different.

14 March 2006

Made It Thru Another One

Although spring does not officially arrive here in the Northern Hemisphere until the Vernal Equinox in about a week, winter has been over here in southeast Texas for a few weeks. And now the final sign that the risk of freezing weather is truly past has shown itself: the native pecan trees have begun to bud. Although a number of different kinds of trees had already started showing green, the pecans are the final indication of the end of winter's freezes. Some people rely on the mesquite tree as a the ultimate indicator, but since I don't have any mesquite trees around me, but I do have dozens of 100-year-old pecans to consult, I rely on them. On our small 2+acre estate (an estatette?) the post oaks and the magnolias will soon replace their winter leaves, the Schumard oaks and the maples and the pecans will start to show new leaves in a variety of colors and the redbud, dogwood, mayhaw, apple, pear, peach, plum, orange, grapefruit and lime trees will all decorate their spindly branches with flowers. We've survived another winter!

Now I have to get the lawn mower and the tractor and all the other motorized and manual maintenance implements back in operational condition. Now I have to start worrying about bugs and rain and weeds. Now I need to go buy new work gloves and a new straw hat and stock up on sunscreen and swimming pool chemicals. Now I know how all my weekends will be spent: sweating. Hopefully, we'll survive another summer!

  • On 3/15/2006 2:05 PM, Anonymous Spicy Cauldron said…

    I'm giggling as this follows on from something I said about stereotypes of Texans on my blog, remember? It's the 'two-acre estate' that would have most average Brits gasping... :-)

    I think that's a lot of land! Any personal land/garden space which needs a tractor mower tells me you're doing okay and you're very lucky; by all accounts, you have some beautiful, inspiring scenery to walk through. I bet it is wonderful to sit out there in the lazy heat of summer. I'd call that land fit for the writing of poetry! How blessed you are to have access to that, but then I shouldn't be too hasty in seeing our one, rear, garden as much smaller; after all, we have the woods behind us and the woods lead onto more land, the woods, the Yorkshire Moors. We've got some of the few mountains in England around us.

    Here in England, we often reference mountains as hills other than the really big ones. I was shocked recently to discover the 'hills' surrounding our home are in fact mountains. I am still trying to find out if they are named as such.

    And while I knew we lived on 'the longest continuous gradient in the UK' here in Cragg Vale, I didn't know until doing some research online that this land has links to Robin Hood and that the gradient continues to the Highlands of Scotland. Now I see why they say what they say - that's a long, gentle, steadily rising slope indeed!

    It's wonderful to read of other people's experiences of the land around them. The pecan trees sound fabulous! I don't think they'd grow here. My favourite trees are rowans, which I have written about the magical properties of on older blog posts - check out 'The Rowan Trees of Hebden Bridge' - and the beautiful Silver Birch, which looks even better in Winter with its dramatic white bark. x

  • On 3/15/2006 2:09 PM, Anonymous Spicy Cauldron said…

    If you ever visit the UK, I think you'd enjoy West Yorkshire - particularly here in Cragg Vale and Hebden Bridge, the Calderdale valley. In Summer, it is amazing. In Winter, it still is but I think it lacks the same tourist appeal! Depends if folks don't mind the cold...

    If you're ever interested in some English history, there's links in my blogroll. One in particular is a fascinating insight into Calderdale history, which is where I got the info about Robin Hood, some infamous murders, the Cragg Vale Coiners... now they're fascinating but I'll leave them for you to find out about if you want to. You can search for them, lots of references abound. I've often thought they'd make a great foundation for a fascinating historical novel.

    I'd be interested in seeing you post something about the history of YOUR locality, and Texas as a whole. As I say, misconceptions abound in part because of that dangerous Texan ape you have in power...

  • On 3/15/2006 4:17 PM, Blogger DeniseUMLaw said…

    I want to issue warnings about riding mowers, but I'm afraid they wouldn't be in good taste. I'm not as good as you are about joke-telling.

    Have fun with spring! :)

  • On 3/15/2006 4:47 PM, Blogger Jami said…

    In reality, our 2+ acres is definitely NOT the norm in terms of residential lots. We bought the land long ago when it was way, WAY out of town (and consequently relatively cheap) and then built our house when we were fat with cash (pre-kids, crash). Now, the city is encroaching and money is tight, but we still like where we are. Most of the area around us is still farm (corn, cotton, rice, sorghum) and ranch (horses, cattle) land, so it's still rather bucolic.

    Yes, it's really nice to sit in the shade on our front porch in the morning - even in the Gulf coast summer - and listen to the birds ... and the bugs. Our property backs up to a creek and the banks are lined with old-growth native pecans. Over the years we have added a goodly number of other trees, most of them fruit trees of one sort or another, as well as a few hybrid grafted pecans.

    Texas is certainly a unique place, and you might want to read James Mitchner's Texas to get a flavor of the state's history. Texas is a VERY big state (about 3 times the size of the UK) and my corner (southeast) of it is basically where settlement of the state by Anglos started. My house actually sits on one of the original land grants by the Mexican government to Stephen F. Austin. But so do more than a few other houses and farms since it was a BIG grant.

    A few interesting factoids: by population, Houston is the largest city in the state and the fourth largest city in the US, yet it also has one of the highest populations of horses of any city in the country. Approximately half of the land inside the city limits of Houston is still listed as "agricultural usage" on the tax rolls. The Houston Police Department has the largest municipal air force - mostly helicopters - in the country.

  • On 3/16/2006 3:50 PM, Blogger Jami said…

    Denise, prompted by your comment and my own experiences with mowing accidents, I wanted to post something, too, but couldn't get to it until now. One of numerous sites addressing the issue of mowing safety can be found here.

    Let's be careful out there.

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