Beware the ides of March…

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Today, the ides of March, is the average last freeze date in north Texas. There are times, although, when after the 15th of March we’ve experienced one or more late freezes which kill the smatterings of early spring blooms that often start here as early as February. But interestingly there’s a saying hereabouts which purports that if the pecan trees have not yet budded by the 15th, there will definitely be more freezes. So I keep an eye on my neighbor’s pecan tree as it actually has branches reaching over our common fence line, and I can easily see whether it has started budding or not. That’s why today I went out for my usual ides of March sojourn over to my north fence and looked up to find that tiny buds are beginning to appear on some of the tree’s branches. And silly as it may seem, I’ve been watching that circumstance for over a decade now, and it has never failed to be quite accurate in its forecast. So now I can and will bring the ferns out of the green house to enjoy breezy and fresher open air, and I will be able to move forward with more and more plantings. Isn’t it fascinating that seeds which fall to the ground during the growing season in summer and/or autumn know when it’s time to start germinating in the spring and that pecan trees and other already growing things know when it’s safe to start budding and leafing out. Indeed, the Lord’s designs, in all things, are amazingly far better laid out than “the plans of mice and men.”

**Crocus photo taken by Natalie

1351. Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star! ~Excerpted line from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

Beauty is a nectar which
intoxicates the soul.
~T.C. Henley

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In north central Texas where I live, more often than not, we have a winter warm up for a week or so in January. It’s just enough for a few things to believe that spring has arrived and subsequently bloom weeks earlier than normal. As a result of this year’s January warm up, my first magnolia stellata, sometimes called the star magnolia, opened this morning believing that springtime had indeed arrived. Her white, tinged with pink, beauty intoxicated, as it always does, not only my soul but also my eyes. Thus  I found myself uttering the usual litany of words about her stellar loveliness, words like exquisite, gorgeous, magnificent, elegant and so on. However, I given that I’m certain the magnolia has been egregiously duped by January’s treacherous travesty,  I also offered up a prayer that none of her succeeding blooms should perish before the return to winter that February will bring.

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Ecclesiastes 3:4 tell us there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…,” and what amazes me is that even the creatures and beauties of the field seem to know this. The more I observe the goings on in my garden and other aspects of Creation, the more awestruck I become with its plans, its workings, and its Maker. God’s promises are rock solid and too is His faithfulness in keeping them. For no matter what may strike at the foundations of Creation, nothing stops it cycles and continuation. Another thing that simply blows my mind is that God specifically chose all of you and I to partner with Him in Creation’s amazing and ongoing drama. Perhaps that’s something we should contemplate and let sink down deep in our spirits every day and then thereafter take great delight in the peace that comes with such an awareness.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… ~Ecclesiastes 3:1  ✝

1285. Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Bittersweet October.
The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking,
perfect pause between the opposing
miseries of summer and winter.
~Carol Bishop Hipps

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Do you see any leaves turning autumn colors in the photo above? Do you get any sense at all that it’s cool and crisp outside the window, the window that’s right here where I sit to work at my computer, the window from which I shot that not-so-great photo through the venetian blinds? Sadly neither do I! It’s almost November and that “opposing misery of summer” of which Hipps speaks has NOT gone! I’m certain because when I went out in the yard just a few minutes ago to take some photos, I came in just as dripping wet as I had all summer. It might be about ten degrees cooler our there than it was in August, but with the high humidity we are STILL having, it continues to feel like I’m walking into a sauna when I open the door to go out! So where or where is Autumn??? Did it get lost somewhere along its way to Texas??? Perhaps so because according to the National Weather Service the ending of the year and throughout the winter for much of the US will be warmer and drier as the result of another “La Niña” that has set up in the Pacific. (See the photo below where it shows the predicted varying degrees of heat and lack of rainfall as the year ends in the US.) And that makes for an oh so unlucky me because I’m here in north central Texas. Yippee, huh?! That’s why when I read your blogs about cool, crisp days that include photos of lovely autumn leaves, I either begin to salivate like a rabid dog or my eyes start tearing up because Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year and I’m so ready for it to come! Oh, I know, who wants to listen to a whiny old lady rant? So off I go to find a way, despite the “misery,” to self-soothe and seek the presence of things for which to be grateful. Breathe, Natalie, just breathe…

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“But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” ~Jonah 2:9  ✝

**I added the border around the photo I took out my window so you would get the feel of looking out a window.

1248. I am forced to conclude that God made Texas on his day off, for pure entertainment, just to prove that all that diversity could be crammed into one section of earth… ~Author Mary Lasswell

The stars at night – are big and bright
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The prairie sky – is wide and high
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The sage in bloom – is like perfume
Deep in the heart of Texas…
~Excerpted lyrics from a song
by June Hershey

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Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession.
Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.
Like most passionate nations, Texas has 
its own
history based on, but not limited by, facts.
~John Steinbeck

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I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study and the passionate possession of all Texans. ~John Steinbeck, 1962

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And, “Texans for the most part have never learned to be dull,” accurately quipped Randolph Campbell.

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As I’ve said repeatedly the intense heat of the Texas summer has always been difficult for me to tolerate. It forces me to stay indoors much more than I like, and being separated from the earth and God’s voice in the natural world starves my spirit. However, I have come to love much of the unique Texas experience, and I am thankful that the Lord created the man or woman who invented air-conditioning. I’m grateful too that our house has lots of windows so I can at least see my yard during times when it’s just too miserably hot to be out in it.. Also after I bought a digital camera, I’m able to save the garden’s glory in photographs that help me make it through the times when the summer heat temporarily robs the landscape of much of its beauty. How blessed are we that the work of His hands is as apparent as ever in His world.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:19 ✝

**Images found on the Internet, Pinterest, and Pixabay; collages by Natalie

 

1232. When summer gathers up her robes of glory, like a dream of beauty she glides away. ~Sarah Helen Power Whitman

Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing
her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn.
~Michelle L. Thieme

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More signs!!! Yippee! It ain’t over til it’s over they say, but I see more signs that the “over” is on its way! So yay!!! This rare week of cloudy days, rainy spells, and the blessing of lower temperatures is not only a boon and a balm but it’s also encouraging my belief that the “times they are a changing.” That belief is found as well in these images of white autumn clematis blooms, red and orange ripening rose hips, and a spider web. A spider web, a sign? Yes, strangely enough I’ve always found more spider webs in my yard as autumn approaches than at any other time of the year. And oddly the spider’s prey trapped in the center of the web looks like a tiny angel. So? Angel’s are always portents of change, aren’t they?! The dictionary defines portent as a warning or a sign that something, especially something momentous or calamitous, is likely to happen. So I’m praying the angel is telling me that all these things are portents of the momentous beginning of an earlier end of summer here in Texas. Did you hear that you nasty old heat beast? You can just back up your bag of torrid tricks and head on down the road. Oh now I can hardly wait for one of my most favorite things–that morning when I open the door and feel the first delicious nip in the air and know that autumn’s door is truly opening.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years… ~Genesis 1:14  ✝

1231. We are in midsummer; the sun is in full power, and at noon all nature is silent under his spell… ~Excerpt from Eliza Cook’s Journal

Summer is the time when one sheds
one’s tensions with one’s clothes,
and the right kind of day is
jeweled balm for the battered spirit.
A few of those days and you
can become drunk with the belief
that all’s right with the world.
~Ada Louise Huxtable

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Yay! Hooray! Woo Hoo! We’ve been having some of those jeweled balm days! I can’t exactly say that summer’s coming to an end because at times it can last well into late September or even October where we live. However, there’s a smattering of things at the moment that are foreshadowing Autumn’s coming. Not only that but we’ve gotten some much needed rain lately, and that has brought with it somewhat lower temperatures. And although I know these anomalies will end soon, it has been a welcome and rejuvenating respite from the dastardly dog days of Texas in July and August. One of the forerunners I’ve seen is a few blooming spikes on my physostegia virginiana, a plant commonly called False Dragonhead because of the flower’s resemblance to snapdragons. And it is their pinkish lavender blooms that are adding beauty to the bedraggled remains in the garden. They also bring hope that summer’s siege will in fact come to an end a some point in time, something that some of us begin to doubt after weeks and weeks of triple-digit or near triple-digit temperatures.

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” ~Genesis 8:22  ✝

**Large image in background via Pinterest; the side by side images on top of it were taken in my yard today.

1229. The glory in the garden lies in more than meets the eye. ~Rudyard Kipling

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be…
~William Wordsworth

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“Glory days, they’ll pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye” goes a line in a song by Bruce Springsteen. And so it is with the morning glory. She comes and spends her brief hour upon life’s stage but that wink of her daily glory lasts a lifetime, at least for me. I adore each and every one that blooms until the vines die with the first freeze. And if there is a blessing in our hot summers here in Texas, it is in that we enjoy a long growing season and our first average freeze date is not until November 15th.

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About this time each year my morning glory vines hit their stride and from here on out until our first freeze, glory will indeed abound in my yard. Each one though it lives but that one day looks like a chalice which holds morning’s light and therefore God’s continuing glory on earth. As such she feeds body and soul with her beauty and she honors her Maker with her glory. So yes, Mr. Wordsworth we shall grieve not the “splendor in the grass or the glory in the flower,” but ever find strength in the “primal sympathy which having been must ever be…”

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morning glory sings in
the highest pitch
that fills
all the
empty spaces
unto the eyes of
the Lord
~Gregory Golden

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But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. ~Psalm 3:3  ✝

**All morning glory images taken in my yard but not all today