Hummingbird Season Won’t End at My House This Year

Oh, how exciting! This morning I was on my front porch when I looked around and saw a small brownish hummingbird in the non-bearing pomegranate shrub. At first, I wasn’t positive if it was a rufous or if it was the female ruby-throat that was here yesterday. Was I sure about that color? Is it really a rufous? Am I seeing what is really here, or just what I want to see?

I walked over closer to get a better look, and it sure looked like the rusty color on its side just in front of the wing. Just to help me out, the little bitty bird hopped around in the branches giving me a better look. Oh, my goodness! It’s a rufous! It was like God was saying, “Happy Birthday, Diane.” I certainly said, “Thank you! This is great!”

If you live on the upper Texas Gulf Coast don’t take your feeders down. Even if the last of the ruby-throats has left, you may get a rufous or even a buff-bellied hummingbird. I used to have to go about 10 or so miles north of here to see a rufous, but last year I finally had not one, but two of them. Not bad for the first time to have rufous in my yard. They are pretty aggressive and may chase Little Miss Ruby-Throat away. They may even be why I didn’t see a buff-bellied last year, whereas I had one spend two winters in a row here before last year. You may get a buff-bellied, too. They will sometimes hang out along the Gulf Coast during the winter.

I like seasons. I like the cooler temperatures, the changing leaves and even no leaves on trees, the color of the sky, and the different birds. We never had hummingbirds in winter until recently. This is the fourth year in a row for us to have a hummingbird in the yard who came specifically for this season. If you haven’t had them in the winter before, don’t give up. These little winged creatures are on the move and may show up at your house, too.

ADDENDUM: Be sure and read “All Those Hummingbirds Will Come HERE?”, written on March 11, 2013. I misidentified a few birds!

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Autumn?

We are down to the last few hours of Thanksgiving, and I feel like I missed Fall. I usually feel this way at the end of November, but more so this year. I love the fronts with dry cool air, and Fall colors and decorations – the cornucopia, fall squashes, pumpkins, watching the leaves change color. Well, there’s something good. The woods that I see out my studio windows have really been pretty.

The reason it goes by so fast here I think, is because I’m on the Gulf Coast. I grew up with school textbooks and scenic calendars with definite seasons in all the photos, and I think that affected my expectations. We don’t have such definite seasons here. And, when September is as hot as ours was this year, and then we go into October and November with our temps running 10 degrees above normal…geez. This week the weather is finally doing what it normally does and we’re getting two cold fronts in one week. We are loving it!

Besides our weather patterns not fitting in with school textbooks and most scenic calendars sold in the US, Autumn actually lasts until the third week in December, but we start putting up Christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving. That certainly helps to shorten the season! I was surprised to learn that people used to wait until Christmas Eve to put their trees up. Now we put trees up before the Thanksgiving turkey is all gone. And not only Christmas trees, but we can decorate every single room in the house with Christmas stuff; there’s no end of pillows and linens and garlands galore. We seem to have made Christmas into its own short season.

As with Fall decorations, I want to have time to enjoy the Christmas decorations, too. By January 1st though, I want to do winter colors. I have an icy blue tablecloth that I like to put out during winter with a lace tablecloth over it. It reminds me of ice and snow, even if I look outside and see a random butterfly in January.

I think what I really want in my heart of hearts is to live more in sync with seasonal changes than what I seem to be able to pull off. Farmers used to do that, ya’ know. They had to pay attention to weather and animal behavior and all kinds of signs in the skies. These things took the place of the meteorologist. They also had their seasonal chores. The other day, I saw a suggestion for farmers to use the winter as a good time to catch up on their reading. It was in a replica of a 1910 Almanac. Their tools had all been cleaned up and oiled during Fall. Fence mending and home repairs were done before the snow started. Of course, this was New England. I’d rather live here than there, so I guess I’ll just get in sync as best I can where I am. One thing that would help would be if I would get off this computer. Our brains weren’t designed to have this much light to process at this late hour. I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.

Watching the Seasons Change

The change in seasons is lurching along in Southeast Texas. The reason I say ‘lurching’ is because our weather changes constantly in the fall with cold fronts that bring cool dry air–once the rain that comes with them is past–which then back up as warm fronts making it warm and humid again. This fall has been nice though with some cooler than normal temperatures at times. I had a bloom on a hibiscus last week and the Turk’s Cap is still blooming. However, the Four O’ Clocks are about finished for the year and the leaves on the hackberry trees have gone from light green to golden-yellow. The yellow and purple pansies seem to be very satisfied in my garden, along with the herbs and buttercrunch lettuce.

Sunday morning I saw a yellow butterfly on the lipstick plant. (The contrast of a yellow butterfly on a bright red bloom is worth stopping to gaze at for a moment–just beautiful.) A few seconds later, a gentle breeze loosened a few of those golden leaves from 0ne of the hackberry trees and I had to look twice to see if I was looking at butterflies or leaves. Sunday was a good day for a picnic lunch at the river. It felt like the temperature was about 70 F. with a light breeze and no mosquitoes. There was a range of fall colors on the Cyprus, sweet gum and tallow trees.

From Sunday to today our temperature has been dropping as a cold front is moving through. Today is a very gray day with some drizzle and heavier rain is expected. It’s very quiet outside; the birds are all hunkered down in their nests. It’s been that kind of day and at my house it will end with a good ol’ pot of pinto beans flavored with venison sausage, fresh garlic and onion, salt, pepper, cayenne, oregano, ground cumin, paprika, jalapenos and a touch of cinnamon. Put some brown rice and cornbread with that and it’s a good day. I’m enjoying the changes and I hope you are, too.

Last Day of September

What a beautiful day! We have a clear blue sky, the humidity is low and it’s so nice out that I’ve raised my windows. As I sit here drinking iced tea and eating dark chocolate, I’m listening to squirrels, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Northern Cardinals, and various other birds whose songs I haven’t yet learned to identify. While ago I heard a Pileated Woodpecker. Those birds are so fine. They look sort of like Woody Woodpecker from the cartoon.

A friend told me yesterday afternoon she’s had Indigo Buntings and a female finch in her yard. She thinks it was probably a Purple Finch. She also had a Baltimore Oriole. She was having up to 50 humming birds at a time but it’s down to about 25 now. Since this friend is a bit north of me she told me to watch my feeders. I sure am! My numbers on the hummers have been pretty variable the past week but have increased from only seeing one at a time last week to two or three fighting over things this week.

My husband’s Mexican Petunia is still covered in blooms. A couple of hummers were each claiming it day before yesterday. A few weeks ago I saw some Mexican Petunia growing along the gully nearby. I wonder what spread the seed way off to there? Maybe some place upstream that flooded and brought seeds down, or maybe a hurricane blew them to that spot. It’s nice to see the pretty purple flowers by the water.

The cones on the Southern Magnolia are bearing their bright red seeds. Sure is pretty. And the satsumas are beginning to ripen. This will be our first harvest from this tree. Less than a dozen fruit but it’s less than a year old so I guess that’s a good kind of tree to have.

Friends way up north tell me their leaves are changing. Our leaves don’t go through color changes on most of the trees here. At least the ones on the streets don’t. If we go to a river, creek or bayou where it’s cooler we see pretty leaves. It’s like another world on the river.

I hope you are enjoying the changing of seasons where you live. And if you are cooped up inside and are unable to go out, I hope you can ‘see’ a bit of it here and enjoy God’s creation through this little blog.

A Short Tour of the Yard in Mid-September

I’ve set up this category that I’ve called “My Bloomin’ Yard” and I haven’t written much about what’s blooming out there. So, I thought today I’d just take you on a little tour of part of the yard. We’ll do the sanitized version and skip the weeds, OK?

Today is an overcast day; it’s not raining exactly but it’s a bit misty and grey.  (It makes me think of London so I’m going with the British spelling, “grey”.) The birds are very active, chirping and flying about looking for groceries. As I look out my front door there are two hummingbirds chasing each other away from the feeder on the front porch. So, I’m not even outside yet and it’s about birds and not plants.

However, as I step out onto the porch I see that the Elephant Ears look pretty good, but my Texas Lantana and fern don’t look so great. They are at the end of their season and give the appearance of being tired, having lost not only their fresh green springtime color, but even the dull green of mid-summer, as they are beginning to turn brown. Upon closer inspection, I see that the Elephant Ears are starting to fade. As they are lightening over the whole surface of the leaves, I see a lighter green working it’s way in from the edges, and the light and dark greens, along with veins, give a swirly effect that I think would be a great idea for background paper for art. I wonder as I study the leaf, if I would be able to create the same effect with ink and bleach?

The red Hibiscus is blooming and so is the Turk’s Cap. The hummers love these plants! The butterflies like them as well, and they also feed on the yellow Four O’ Clocks.  As I pass by, I collect a few Four O’ Clock seeds to share.

On the side of the house, I check on a tiny red spider that I saw earlier when I was feeding birds. He has his tiny web down in the grass. The spider is still waiting for groceries to show up. The grass is wet even though it’s early afternoon, and the spider’s web is glistening like a glittery tablecloth. It makes me think of a New Year’s Eve party. Except in this case, no one wants to be the spider’s ‘guest’.

Some white flowers that grow wild have found their way to my yard. They grow close to the ground on small vines.  There are four petals on each flower, and I never noticed this before now, but the petals are fuzzy. You have to get down really close to see that. I think they are cute. My husband thinks it’s time to cut the grass. Guess which spot he’ll be asked to skip? He’s used to it and he won’t mind.

Next, we’ll look around just a bit in the back yard. One of our cactus plants (one of the ones that has big paddles) has grown taller over the summer than all of us. Well, we haven’t grown taller over the summer, but you know what I mean. We are amazed by it.

The Magnolia Tree is bearing pretty, soft red cones. The red cones against the green leaves remind me of Christmas.

We have a Spider Lilly that some call a Hurricane Lilly. They are beginning to come up and open. I noticed them popping out of the ground yesterday. They are a wild flower also. The reason some folks call them Hurricane Lilies is because sometimes we have a hurricane before they come up, and it appears that one thing caused the other. That happened last year. Ike came along and tore up the yard, stripping Canna Lily leaves to bits, and then a couple days later, up pop the Spider Lilies in all their glory. They were a nice reminder that even when things are a mess, beauty can be found if we look for it.