"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rockies in the Springtime

Springtime's arrival in Central Texas is just as flirtacious as in most places.
One day she dances with me, the day all sunny with temperatures in the 70's.
The next, she hides around the corner and laughs at my disappointment.
Today our lawns are still brown and all the deciduous trees are bare.

All except the brave Redbuds that are tossing dark pink/purple arms into the sky in praise to God for the warm sunshine.

The Bradford pear trees are watching those Redbuds carefully and just beginning to join them. We planted a pear tree last year and I examine the tips daily, happily noting some swelling in the buds. We chose this tree for it brings beauty in 3 seasons: the white, lacy blossoms of early spring are so fragrant that they make me giddy. Then in summer the thick green leaves provide much appreciated shade. Finally, in late fall those leaves change to deep reds that remind us of the amazing colors of fall in Upstate New York.

Our friend and neighbor planted some bulbs last Nov and we now delight in bright yellow daffodils and purple crocuses.

He also has some hyacinths--their perfume reaches back into my memory of childhood Easters. A little pot of purple and pink hyacinth often sat on the table and the sweet fragrance filled the kitchen, declaring wordlessly that spring had arrived!

I've been thoroughly enjoying digging in the garden beds, pruning back bushes and even relocating some. We moved to Texas totally ignorant of what grows here and planted some things in very wrong places. So, here I go-moving holly bushes, Silverado sage plants, butterfly bush and lantana to new locations.

The biggest challenge to this relocation project is the digging of new holes. The earth in this area is made of two components: limestone and calichi mud. Both are just different stages of original sand, I believe. You've seen pictures of little adobe huts, flat rooftops and all. Well, I am quite sure they are made out of dried calichi mud. It is awful when wet and clings to shoe bottoms like clumps of heavy, wet clay. It does the same to the little padded feet of our spaniel and has to be soaked and picked out. Yuck! When dry, it is like concrete. (Thus the walls of those little houses.)
This calichi packs tightly around countless limestone rocks of all shapes and sizes. We own a pickax that Jack has to swing each time we want to make a hole in the yard for a tree or bush. The builders hide these rocks with about 2 inches of topsoil and then sod and we have spent the past 6 1/2 years trying to add compost to build up this crummy base into actual soil.

We live intentionally on a greenbelt and chose this lot specifically for this backyard. The acres of wildness with trees, grasses, cacti, shrubs, caves and lots of animals are great. We love it. But there is this one strip between our sodded yard and the wildness that we have decided to semi-cultivate. We hang a swing in the trees and have the birdbath in this "in between" land. It would like to grow up into wild grasses and weeds, but we fight to tame it and that means keeping it trimmed. There are so many edges of rocks peeking through that the mower simply can't be pushed. My goal is to dig up these protruding rocks. Over these few years, I'll bet I have dug up at least 50 of them. Yesterday I got a few more. I scrape off the dirt, wedge the shovel around the edges and pry, pry, pry to loosen each one, never knowing the actual size. I could start with a 6 inch X 4 inch piece showing and end up with a rock 2 feet long. And heavy! Knowing my strong, young son-in-law is arriving in a day or two, I worked hard on several big ones. They are loosened and sitting upright now, waiting for his muscles to pull them out. As I stood back and looked at them, they reminded me of headstones in a cemetery. But, instead of burying something, I had unburied the stones themselves! The holes they had been living in are the empty graves.

No matter how many rocks I uncover and remove, there are always more... I have a theory about this "rock garden". Since the earth is always spinning at great speed, the centrifugal force is pushing out from within and these rocks really came from somewhere deep in the earth's core. Now, don't go asking a geologist if there is any truth in my idea, it is JUST a theory, after all. (I have come up with many theories during my lifetime. Just ask my family!) Anyway, as soon as my geologist daughter reads this, I will certainly be told just what's what.

By the way, did anyone catch the twist in the title of this blog??? Think musically...

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