Alchemy

Spring is coming to the Hill Country after a hard (for us) winter …

and so, as I am wont to do, I walked the land. Then returned to find this post

over at Mo’s blog. Marti’s pennant of cloth dyed from the land and her words invoking alchemy.
Coincidentally, before I walked, I had begun my own dye-play using windfall galls from the live oaks, their previous inhabitants long since gone. I wrapped the galls in thrifted linen, tying them off with a variegated thread that I hope will bleed. Then dipped the whole in warm black tea and hung the results in the Texas persimmon …
Note: this was spectacularly unsuccessful!

After which I walked, surveying our latest prickly pear cactus whacking …

the end product of which will be more berms …

within which the alchemy of sun and rain will disintegrate the grass-topped mounds into the black gold of compost ..

Likewise, the mistletoe-choked cedar elm has been safely downed and chipped by arborists, soon to line the trails that meander through our land …

Walking down the east trail I came to the cactus corral …

Once a bare patch clotted with cactus, it is now full of grasses and the bright green promise of thimble flowers.
The burn pit is also full of brush cut back to make way for more prairie grasses …

Beyond it, the floodplain is beginning to bloom …

As my eye scanned the land seeking the first golden eye, it caught instead on an intriguing spiral of stone …

Nearby, the last remnants of a much-needed rain …

A flicker of color led me to the corner of the property where surveyor’s tape fluttered …

marking the edge of the land now owned by our someday next door neighbors, our bid having been too little to secure the acreage for ourselves.
But we have more than enough here and always there is something …

Picking up the empty shell, I wondered at its one-time inhabitant. Had it perished on the droughted floodplain? How ironic those two words are. But water is the key to our land of flood and drought. 
Which is why the avian font (Barry’s term, much more appealing than “bird bath”) is drunk dry by the deer as often as not …

Filling it …

I noted yet another flutter from the corner of my eye …

a black butterfly with iridescent blue spots above …

and an orange/red spot below, just visible as it flew away. I will have to look it up.
But for now, I am sitting beside Don’s newest garden …

waiting for the almost-full moon to rise in the east and hoping to hear the call of Sandhill cranes as my Remember 2016 cloth reminds me 
they come at the end of February …

as surely as spring follows winter.

15 thoughts on “Alchemy

  1. Your magic bag of oak galls hanging on your persimmon tree, a bag of yet to be discovered magic, gave me such a warm feeling Liz. I simply loved seeing this today. It takes a special eye, what I call the inner eye, to notice the gifts that await when we walk the land. I have been suspended in time and place, remembering when I lived in Texas, walking the land. Today that connection held strong with you, with Don, with memory of wonder and discovery. When the world gets too much with us, we can always step outside and LOOK, with reverence, with heart, with quiet joy, as you have done.

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  2. It is indeed a pleasure to amble across your landscape with you as spring approaches. What a gorgeous butterfly! Spring is trying to break out here, but we have had a series of cold fronts bringing snow, wind and rain for a couple of weeks now. It is too blustery and chilly to walk in a leisurely fashion, but the first wild flowers will be out in about three weeks I think. If I had a calendar quilt I would know.

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  3. Marti – You are often \”with me\” as I walkMo – As you walk into autumnNancy – What a great blast from the past. I can't remember the last time I listened to the Marshall Tucker Band, but they were part of my personal soundtrack during college for sure. The lyric is worth repeating here: Well my idea of a good time Is walkin' my property line And knowin' the mud on my boots is mineAnd I just bought a new pair of boots … ha!Sue – I didn't see the face until you mentioned it … now it's all I can see!Dana – It was near impossible to get a picture of the butterfly … I'm glad you were able to see a glimpse of its beauty. And yes, I often refer to the calendar quilt and think I really should do another some day.Hazel – To visit virtually is a wonderful thing … magical even

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  4. hey Liz , so different than the place where i life love the blue butterfly , love everything ; to day we had the last frozen days , minus 7 C. and a colt verry cold wind with beautyful sun shine ; yes i see also that spring is there , the yellow flowers are first , greetz

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  5. Maria – I don't envy you the cold … but come summer your sunshine will be far kinder than ours. Thanks for coming by …Velma – The Hill Country is so different from the rest of Texas … hills and trees and green. Even now our land is putting up its first round of seasonal grasses: Texas wintergrass, which will be followed in short order by rescue grass and wild rye.Grace – the live oaks are a wonder … how they hold their leaves through winter until the new leaves of spring simply push the old leaves off. The galls start off looking like nothing so much as spring peas, inhabited by larval wasps. The ones I gathered are gnarly old knots with little holes, escape hatches through which the wasps flew to their next life stage.

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  6. Morna – thank you … it is a (wonderfully) different aesthetic from our days in manicured Williamsburg. The live oaks are fascinating in that they can \”shut down\” whole limbs during droughts, saving the core of the tree. When the rains return, they begin growing in another direction.

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  7. I too love the stroll through your world. Also – the sense of industry that will lead to rotting piles that will lead to loam and growth. I hope you get pictures of the sand cranes!

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  8. Dee – Pictures are near impossible since they fly so high, but I always try. They often stop over our flood plain to take a wheeling rest in the thermals that rise over the bare rock. Their calls alert us to their presence … a sure sign of spring

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