Sunday Stroll

When I left the house mid-afternoon to walk my usual fire line paths, one an in and out, one a rough loop, and the usual finish a third of a mile stroll on the gravel road to the gate and back, I was prepared to get rained on. You have probably heard from  reports on stories about the BP oil spill that our Gulf coast weather is very windy and hot, with a southeasterly breeze. My hair soon popped out of the pony tail band I had captured it with, then frizzed out, curled, and blew all over my head.

Flies that look like Maine black flies but mercifully didn't bite buzzed all around me, landing in my hair tangles and trying to crawl up under my eyeglass lenses. I swatted, muttered, and walked faster. When I changed direction, the flies continued on, and left me in peace to enjoy the rest of my walk.

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The milkweed's blossoms have popped out. They don't last very long, less than a week.

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When I first saw this plant along the trail, I thought it was another milkweed. The configuration of buds and flowers is quite similar, but the foliage is thin and reedy – totally unlike the thick, veined leaves of the milkweed.

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Not sure, but I think these are Slender Beard Tongue (Penstemon australis) just beginning to bloom.

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This tree with tiny flowers popping out all over is abundant in the woods, but I don't know what it is. Any ideas? Kathleen? Dave? Deb?

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The growth tips of these volunteer slash pines are more delicate, but no less exuberant, than those of the southern longleaf.

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There are hardwoods, too. The fresh blackjack leaves are especially beautiful to me.

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And this limby old oak down near the stream bed is tattooed with red blanket lichen.

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Magnolias like to have their feet wet. They are a good clue to soil type. I love their huge leaves especially in the spring, when there is a mix of old and new leaves.

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These gorgeous cascades line one side of the gravel road part of the way to the gate. Sounds wonderful, but they have a nose-wrinkling, unpleasant smell! It's worth it, though, so I just breathe shallowly and enjoy.

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Ballerinas wearing plumed headdresses, the honeysuckle's sweet scent permeates the woods and drowns out its stinky neighbor.

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At the gate, a gift. Once, years ago when I had the silly notion that I might "civilize" these woods, I planted a climbing rose at the gate. It has long since been overrun by smilax, scuppernong and blackberry vines. I had almost forgotten it was there, until today, nodding in the heavy, moisture-laden wind, it reminded me. My left hand, veiny from years of piano, holds it still so my right hand can press the camera button. Reminds me how I miss having a rose garden. The colors and texture are like nothing else in the world. Even here, in its state of dishabille, it is incredibly lovely.

5 thoughts on “Sunday Stroll

  1. Hi Beth, I love your Longleaf strolls. So much fun to see the season in your woods.
    Hard to tell from the picture, but do you think the blooming tree could be a Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)? Check this Lady Bird Wildflower Center database entry (scroll down for more pix): http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ilvo .
    With the rains this spring, our Yaupon is blooming big and the birds have a shot at a berry-good winter.
    Glad to hear Steve is in good hands.

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  2. fabulous tour. I took photos today as well. the growth spurts seem to happen even while we walk from one to the other. I think it’s good to plant tenacious traditional memories.
    and I’ll go with Kathleen on the tree guess. Of course, I’m no doubt going to spend a few minutes googling anyway.
    continued healing thoughts for your Steve. our Steve now 🙂
    and you must be reeling from the oil mess. Insanity.

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  3. Kathleen — this is pretty embarrassing, because we have gazillions of yaupon here, and I normally recognize them just fine! Something about the way those yellow flowers were on an otherwise almost bare branch threw me. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
    By the way, our dentist, Mickey Parker, (who also sells Longleaf pine seedlings, many of which are growing here) told me that the white, flowering (stinky) shrub pictured is Chinese privet, an aggressive invader. Darn.

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