Saturday, January 26, 2008

Winter Flannel...

Winter gray in Austin. Stark and cold, yet somehow, still intriguing. And foggy -- it's rather erie. I was psyched for another warm day, but it appears today will be warmer, but I'm not sure yet about the Sun's appearance later. I'll cross my fingers and hope the sun comes out.

I'm always fascinating by the creatures who weather the winter -- outdoors -- with no heater, no gas fireplace or blankets or fuzzy slippers. We pile on and peel off as the weather dictates, but the wildlife around us simply endures.

My husband's family raises Belgian Draft Horses in Indiana and while I do believe that they are a hearty bunch, it still seems really cold up there for them for a very long time!

And even here, where it's more temperate, I think about our wild birds. Scrawny shrubs and ruffled feathers don't seem to me to have much capacity to warm them up, but they're here, chirping and flitting about, minding their business, seemingly impervious to the elements on most days.

So, we feed and water them, and I admit, I talk to them and worry about them. And I wonder about the chitting and chirping between the two male cardinals who seem to be fighting for our yard and woods territory. Wish I knew more about their behavior -- one of them has been our neighbor for 4 years. And then, there's our newest neighbor, a squawky scrub jay that is tough as nails. No one messes with him -- least of all me!

I admire them all, and hope that this Spring, our resident cardinal couple, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal, have some babies we can watch for a while.

Sunshine...on my shoulder...makes me happy

I know we have HUNDREDs of days of sunshine each year here in Central Texas and I know how lucky we are. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how much I truly appreciate another beautiful day here in Austin. The sun and the dew on the evergreen plants in the yard [and some not quite so evergreen - read - ginger!] was so lovely this morning, I just had to share it.

[And I know I'm dating myself with that headline for those of you who hummed it to yourselves! Tee hee!]

I got an email today from my cousin and her husband in Germany and they have a beautiful yellow crocus in full bloom in Weilerswist. Even where the winters can be bitter, the determination of our plants to bring us happiness is strong!

So, today I tore out all the dead tomato plants and put away the amazing folding, square tomato cages in preparation for the new garden project. I'm making the call tomorrow to get a fence put up and another vegetable bed created. I planted a globe artichoke and some lettuce today, and am just about to plant a multitude of seeds in seed pots to start indoors before it really warms up outside. I'm just planting one tray of seeds, to keep it manageable, and will have an assortment of veggies and perennials or annuals.

Helloooooooo down there!

Ah. Spring. Well, not really Spring. But, the promise of Spring.

We've had cold (for us - 40 degrees) weather and rain and gray skies for several weeks. But when the sun came out today, you would have thought we hadn't seen it in months! It was delightful. From the steam rising off the plants as it warmed so quickly this morning, to the beautiful morning light, the promise of this day was full.

So, I grabbed the camera and headed out to search for other signs of Spring. And I found them. Just a few little bulbs peeking out- sending up their delicate shoots to check on the weather up here and decide whether or not they really want to show up for the dance!

I'm so sad to report that in the holiday rush, I only got about 1/2 of the bulbs I bought into the ground. But, we should still have about 50 new bulbs joining the existing burst of color that always makes me smile every time I walk outside in the late winter here. (Because it really isn't Spring, yet, and won't be for quite some time!)

I wonder if I can keep the other bulbs somewhere and plant them next season? I don't really think so, but I hate to waste them.

So, with 72 degrees on the horizon for tomorrow, I can't even decide where to start. But I know that tomorrow will be spent outdoors, soaking up the vitamin D I've been missing and getting my hands dirty somehow. I can't wait!