At 8:30 this morning, I walked and drove to the far field. Smiling at wild mustang grapevines that yield monarch butterflies along the fence row, I hiked with camera in the grove along Salt Creek. The creek runs water despite the lack of rain for over a month. Squall lines last evening bypassed the ranchito, dumping hail and rain in Fort Worth, sixty-seven miles away to the east and in Cisco, forty-five miles to the west. Wine Cup clearing, as I now call it, bears Wine Cups this Spring. I saw none last year. In the photograph above, the Wine Cups are on the right side of the clearing. They have cool shade from the oak and elm and the creek runs nearby that brings the ambient temperature down a few degrees.
Names have been given, I am sure, to places on the ranchito before I came, but they have not been passed down. (There has been only one owner previous to me besides the Venable family that settled larger sections of land in the surrounds.) I give a name first by location: near field, far field, arena pasture, barn pasture, etc., but then when an object or landform becomes prominent, like Pecan Tree or Wine Cup, I name the space, giving it animation and fixing the impression. I have no crew to direct into the pastures, but when I refer to The Grove or Pecan Tree Pasture, friends and family know where that is, associating flora and fauna with location, and ambiguity disappears.
Two-years ago, I discovered one or two Wine Cups in the grove, up from the creek, in a private place for this blossom. Today, eight blossoms of Wine Cup or Poppy Mallow emerged from the same location. Eight Wine Cups are not a bell weather of climate change, but rather, I suspect, a change due to fallowing, allowing the flowers to replenish. Green grass and tall trees abound about the Wine Cup’s private place. I find no Wine Cups at other locations on the ranchito although I continue to search.
I find Trailing krameria or Prairie sandbur in only two places on the ranchito, both on the knoll where the house sits. This is a delicate plant and can be missed and mowed under if one is not careful. It lies along the fence line between the house and front pasture and, secondly, has emerged on a terrace to the southeast. I find archeological evidence of hearth and tool making about the ranchito and I wonder if earlier inhabitants or migrants saw this plant. I presume so and know it must have some medicinal properties?
The stems of Skeleton Plant are rigid, attached at obtuse angles, like a skeletal frame. The flower stalk and blossom are tall, some two feet. These plants are more prolific this year than two years ago. Here is a larger picture of the Purple Dandelion with yucca blossoms. I cultivate neither. Both emerge wild.
In the far field I have Bull Nettle. It has medicinal properties, but is quite painful to be brushed against. As a boy, I got a painful lesson in ‘trying’ to pick its blossoms. I have a collector in Wisconsin to whom I will send a few with warning labels this Spring.
No. 31 is Common Yarrow.
The pastures are browning here and towards San Angelo and Mexico I am told by ranchers more desert appears. Grass fires have been erupting this last week between here and Abilene. Yet, the diversity of nature here on these 53 acres of my ranchito shows both browning pastures and a creek that runs water with moss growing on its banks. Brown and green, primary colors of nature, intermingle and birds continue to sing despite the fear I have that a climate shift has come and the green will dwindle until next year’s Spring rains. I may be right; I may be wrong. As the ancients said, We shall see what we shall see.
- Olivetti and Flowers of Flying Hat (20-24) (swamericana.wordpress.com)
- Yucca morning (swamericana.wordpress.com)