Color Color Color is a Comin’

To human eyes there are some 7-10± million different colors in the color-spectrum the eyes can process through various ophthalmological stages for the brain to interpret. Even though there are seemingly that many hues of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, the visibility and tidal wave of so many colors depends on the amount of sunlight available reflecting off of everything we gaze upon. But here’s another delightful twist to our fondness for nature’s bursts upon her color-palate:  rainfall. Yes, water plays a huge role in the chances of what we might possibly see and perceive on her outdoor canvas.

There are other variables involved, not excluding warmer temperatures, shorter winters, and in the western United States wildfires prior to saturating rains, that have prepared for this 2019 Spring to probably be the best super bloom of germination, eye-popping stimulation surpassing the last two remarkable spring seasons! California’s super blooms are well-known nationally. This year Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas—to name just three more states—will join in these showstopping color festivals visible even from space. Care to get a quick glimpse of what splashes and vistas we are likely about to witness over several states?

 

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On a cellular biological level it continues to dazzle me how given enough time life adapts in order to not only survive, but thrive and do so with such spectacular beauty. And think of how busy all of the thousands and thousands of different pollinators, butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, snapdragons, even ants to name only five, as part of a grande symphonic crescendo to masterpiece and finale. Each instrument contributes their important part to this extravaganza of biological flora we call life, a super bloom enmasse, the Super Bloom of 2019. I wish the show lasted longer than a few weeks because all this botanical beauty does my mind and body a world of good!

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Spring Attacks!

Oh the carnage, the humanity, the bio-economy of it all! The constant mating everywhere! The constant devouring everywhere! Does it ever end!?

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Toris Amarrylus

Daughter’s amaryllis ferrari

It was a very mild winter. Many don’t remember winter being so non-existent. Then came the abnormal rainfall. Many Central Texas lakes and rivers had been well below normal water levels for several years due to drought. Not this Spring! Texas endured record flooding across much of the state. That’s the good news and the bad news. If you are an avid gardener or farmer, it’s bad news — the insects normally killed during cold hard freezes in winter, all survived. If you are a bird, a frog, a pond goldfish, a field-mouse, an armadillo, a rabbit, a skunk, a cat, a grey fox, a raccoon, a ring-tail cat, or a white-tailed deer, no winter means TONS of food everywhere! And if you are a birder or Naturalist (me), it is wildness galore and heaven on Earth for you and all creatures! So as it goes… “it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

 

Our mild winter, our Christmas, and a sign of things to come began with my daughter’s gift of Amaryllis Ferrari. For about two months it constantly flowered with a total of nine blooms throughout the 8-weeks. On a sidenote, my apologies for the substandard quality of my pictures and videos. It’s my LG camera-phone’s fault.

In late March I cranked down the Martin-house in back overlooking the Guadalupe River valley and Kerrville. I cleaned it out in the hope that Purple Martins would move-in before the common Sparrows, like they’ve so often done. For about a week the two bird-breeds fought fiercely over the 12-unit two-story house. As I watched the battling and wing-flapping, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the many times our neighbors complained about my high school rock-metal band practicing in our downstairs garage. It was so loud at times we shook the living room and kitchen floors above us. Upset and not at all proper fans of quality high-fidelity music, Mom and my sister sounded strangely similar to this yelling and screaming…

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

By the end of April and several back-to-back fronts seemingly every 10-12 days bringing more rainfall, the entire property lit up with golds, pinks, yellows, indigos, crimsons, and every possible types of greens and textures imaginable. This year, instead of two sets of lantana camara, we have three sets. And surprisingly, the once strictly yellow-blooms have turned to a mix of pinks and yellows. How is it possible when we did no transplanting? Then it hits me.

 

whitetail-deer-family

The evil, insatiable Odocoileus virginianus.

This outdoor caretaker, this gardener, this beautification security guard (myself), has a few thoughtless nemeses roaming about at night. The most villianest of them all is Odocoileus virginianus and it knows no limit to its diet! If it’s colorful, green, and designed for human admiration and enjoyment, it’s on the menu! But their insatiable appetite is only half their evil doings. While lounging and munching during the moonlit darkness, as I slumber they leave their calling-card… EVERYWHERE! If you walk the lawn with your head up so as not to bang your head on bird feeders or Live Oak branches, then you will certainly step in Odocoileus virginianus evidence, or shit warmly left behind for a morning reminder of who is ultimately in-charge outside. Yet, there’s a silver-lining to these animal bowels:  transplanted lantanas!

Our family’s 12-acre property and ranchita home has a surrounding lush St. Augustine lawn, a waterfall with pond, and many spectacular plants and native herbs  carefully placed and landscaped. Because I have no desire to patrol at the godforsaken midnight, 2:00, or 4:00 a.m hours, I have brilliantly constructed protective cages around our plants or tasty menu items! There is another downside.

Lantana-3Thriving from nature’s touch and my superb care, our stunning plants quickly outgrow my short-sighted fixed protections, sticking through the wiring offering-up their appetizing blooms to my ever-present, always hungry 4-legged nemeses, who then ironically and quite unintentionally shit more flowers for us… sort of. The deer must loiter long enough for full lantana recycling, or mobile intestinal planting. There’s another thinly silver-lined benefit — thinly in the most invisible sense. Excited neighbors mention they now have “wild native” lantana growing in their yard. Hmm, nothing like sharing the bowels of beauty with everyone!

It is the best of times, and it is the worst of times.

white-winged_dovesThey have 4-6 broods a year and are taking over the neighborhood. I speak of the bull-headed pigeon-offshoot, the white-winged doves. Even their newborn offspring begin nesting a few months after leaving their parent’s nest! Eat, nest, eat, shit, lay eggs, eat with bigger flock, mate like it’s going extinct, eat, shit more, lay more eggs, eat more, repeat. Essentially I’ve described the incredibly vigorous head-bobbing life of the white-winged doves. Their cooing sounds like a bunch of yawning bored unintelligent dinner clubbers. We had enough! Time to take action on the other nemeses.

Some wonderful person invented a deterrent called bird-shot for .22-caliber long rifles. The ammo isn’t too powerful — I used it to hit white-tailed deer in the ass when sneaking up to the St. Augustine grass and bird-feeders in daylight until they figured out I meant serious daytime business… until I was in bed in the middle of the night, when the All-You-Can-Eat buffet begins. The sting on their buttocks makes them scatter… far! Oh the pleasure I would receive watching them kick-up their hind legs when the pellets stung. Admittedly, I felt all-powerful, King of this hill and my Kingdom and all who dwelleth within. Hear me roar.

Then a magnificent natural event took place.

red-shouldered hawkWhile shooting the bird-shot at the thousands of white-winged doves over running our baths and feeders, I wounded one of them. He or she tried to fly away, but could only hobble hop in the grass. Another ww-dove came out of the tree tops to be with it — its mate? And then as quickly as it came down it flew back up! I thought how odd. Before I could think of why, WOOOSH! From some nearby tree our familiar red-shoulder hawk in seconds swooped down and tackled the wounded ww-dove, pinning it to the ground within its sharp talons! As it sat on top of the dove, our Martins and Swallows dived-bombed the hawk three or four times, the hawk’s head ducking each time, but unrelenting of its catch. A minute or so passed and the gorgeous bird launched, carrying with it the meal for its family.

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

It wasn’t long before when that hawk took natural liberties upon our soothing well-designed and maintained waterfall and pond complete with leopard frogs and Goldfish. Two years prior we placed four goldfish in the empty pond. Two were male and fully vivid orange. One was a spotted female Koi, the other an all-white albino Koi. Today, we have some 40-50 fish living happily in our pond I maintain daily. See following video…

One early morning as I was sipping my coffee, out of the corner of my eye through our 11-windowed living room I glimpse a huge brown shadow fall from our rooftop into our pond. As I turned to see what it was the red-shouldered hawk flapped its 4-foot wingspan several times on the water surface, then once it snagged its prey it carried off our albino Koi which had grown to 6-inches in length. She was pregnant too because the all-orange males were both mating her with unending voracity the previous week sometimes wedging her against the rocks splashing water in all directions. In fact, all the fish were having orgies everywhere in the pond! When spring sprung, so did all the raging hormones it seems. But our pure-white albino Koi was no more; sushi for the red-shouldered. As the red Claret-cacti flowers in the header image above alludes…

It is the best of times, and it is the worst of times” depending where in the food-chain you exist.

If it weren’t for my 6′ 0″ frame and build, I might be on the menu too. However, before I get to that, allow me to share a few images of how vivid spring has arrived or attacked, along with a cat (Foster) that when outside is constantly twitchy-jumpy from all the overstimulating wildlife 24-hours a day. When it becomes too much, well… you’ll see how he copes:

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Cliff_Swallow

Cat torturer

One of this spring’s entertainment packages enjoyed by Foster-the-cat is the neck bending flybys — looks like torture sometimes — from the new resident cliff swallows nesting in our back porch. They’re a bit anti-social. They do not welcome Foster hanging around. Some days when he wants to lie in stealth around the pond for incognizant leopard frogs sunbathing on the warm rocks, he rudely interrupts the cliff swallow couple! They are trying to make a risk-free mud home atop our music speakers. HAH! They seem to want what everything else is enjoying:  LOVE. It seems to be the trend — to follow suit with all the other rampant mating orgies which proceed from sun up to sun down and beyond! The cat leaps into the air with delusions of grandeur that maybe, just maybe the gods of trajectory and velocity will smile upon him. Foiled! Foiled again! Why can’t I have wings! Perhaps this is the view from Foster’s perspective providing us evolved humans with endless springtime entertainment…

And so to borrow from Dickens with slight modification…

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times,
it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness,
it is clearly the age of birth, death, and near-death!

It is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch of incredulity,
it is the season of Light, it is the season of Darkness,
it is the spring of hope, it is the orgy of feasting.
We have everything before us, we have nothing before us,
we are all going direct to Heaven,
we are all going direct the other way–

In short, the cycle was so far cycling,
that some of its noisiest authorities
insisted on its being received,
for good and evil when spring has FULLY sprung!

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Working Waggle Dancers

IMAGE_098

The pond and piles of leaves. Click for larger image.

Raking and picking up the fall live-oak leaves has been overdue.  Not only that but living on top of a hill with never-ending breezes blowing the tiny leaves into the waterfall and pond, add to and make the job more tedious and longer!  Then it soon reaches the filter which protects the pump, which quickly needs cleaning too!  Last week and this week I have been Yard Man, Pond-n-Pump Man, and like the honey bees we have around, doing it all under the influence and motivation of my loud vocal trance music and the smell of jasmine:  the Dancing Yard Pond-n-Pump Man.  I must admit, there might be a better way of completing these spring chores, but for me there’s no other enjoyable way of doing them.

IMAGE_097As I was cleaning out the pond, treating the water with algae killer, and rebuilding the goldfishes’ rock covered hideaway, I could not help noticing the number of honey bees buzzing me.  They didn’t seem to be as interested in me as they were the water and Lilly-flowers; no need for alarm.  They are worker bees obeying their Queen to go out, seek and find the stuff of food and honey for the hive.  Such is the system of life in springtime.  But curiously when I was at my laptop adjusting the volume from loud to louder, four to six of those buzzers were buzzing my speakers, sometimes the laptop.  I thought “Now that is curious!”  Why were they so interested in my speakers?  Or were they interested in what was coming out of my speakers?  Then I thought “Hah!  They must be Vocal Trance and dance lovers just like me!”  And that’s when it hit me…. bees communicate with each other by specific dances and by the flapping (or buzzing) of their wings:  vibrations/sound waves.

I, like the bees, was working harder by my music and its vibrations.

While I continued to clean the pond and sit next to my music on the laptop to take breathers, I had no reason to be bothered by the honey bees.  In a sense, we were both doing the same work, for our home/hive.  We were dancing busy bees.  We would come over to the music, feel it, and be re-energized.  Then it was back to dancing…. back to work.

Being the inquisitor that I am, I decided to lookup how honey bees communicate with each other.  Scientists have learned that bees talk to each other in remarkably similar ways humans do.  Of their five senses, honey bees communicate through pheromones and choreography.  Think about it, other than talking, how do we like to communicate when we are out in public?  Certain perfumes and cologne mix well with our body’s skin oils, or pheromones.  Other than talking, how else do we communicate?  By how we move.  Honey bees tell each other where a food source is by doing a waggle dance.  All the worker bees (or in this case, dancing bees) pick up on it.  For people our motions and manners convey who we are and what we are doing.  Honey bees are not much different.

Our jasmine vine and blossoms

Our jasmine vine and blossoms

Speaking of attractive smells, there was a spot in the yard I particularly liked to work and work slowly.  It was downwind of the jasmine vines.  If you have not smelled fresh jasmine blooms, then you are missing out on one of nature’s sweetest addicting aromas you’ll ever have the pleasure of inhaling.  Whoa!  I asked myself, is there a way to bottle this or roll it and smoke it?  Or put it in a low-burning oil fragrance bowl?  Holy cow, is there a support group Jasmine-Anonymous for jasmine addicts?  Because I’ll become a lifer!  And no surprise, guess who else enjoyed the blossoms?  My waggling work buddies the honey bees.

As a young boy growing up who had to rake and pick up all the leaves in our huge yard, and inevitably come down with allergies and sinus drainage and swelling, I never looked forward to or enjoyed early spring.  However, this time was very different.  This time I could blast my inspiring music, work and dance with the bees, and the entire time take big whiffs of jasmine like I was inhaling that cigarette after incredible sex.  Though I don’t smoke, I know smokers know what I’m talking about.

In a weird way I want the work to go slowly.  I’m enjoying it.  I guess you would have to be here to understand.

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