Tag Archives: Preservation


This is how you restore the environment.  Begin with the plot of land in front of you. Be the steward with the grass and animals in front of you. Take care of the water in front of you. I write of sagebrush in California, grouse in Colorado and the fir in Washington — magnificent places. And, I will continue to do so, but the 53 acres upon which I reside in North Erath County, Texas, is my first responsibility. From what I learn and observe here, I can extrapolate to other communities and families of living things, beyond Texas.  You may, as a reader, trust my observations — and corroborate — my conclusions if I write of prickly pear and sagebrush that I live with everyday, like a brother or sister, those plants. I encourage you to be the steward to the plot or the trellis of climbing vines in front of you. It’s right there, within your care.  Please read on and don’t forget the list of restorative goals for Flying Hat Ranchito.  Through the cycle of seasons, I will write about attaining or failing the objectives.  Yes, it is an imperfect world, but some ways of behaving are less imperfect than others.

Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides) with Prickly Pear (Genus Opuntia, species untyped), March 20, 2010 (click to enlarge)

What I seek to accomplish in Sage to Meadow blog is to write about nature, wild and domesticated living things, people that live with the land and the constant cycles of the seasons that envelop our lives. It is not all pleasant, this nature writing, because life is abundant and green one season, gone and brown the next.  Today is the first day of spring in North America and other northern latitudes. We now evolve into abundance and the green, but not so far removed from winter, it seems, as the season this year seemed unusually long and cold — and we’re not completely through with winter as snow dust falls here at the ranch.

Vetch Without Blossom, Poprock Pasture (Vicia orobus), March 20, 2010 (vetch is the frond-looking plant, click to enlarge)

Predictably, the cycle into spring yields abundance for our consumption:  De Leon peaches in July for our nutrition, Gulf of Mexico warm wind for face and neck, Texas bluebonnet for the eye, the peeps of newly-hatched sparrow chicks and the scent of fresh vetch in field.  Polymorphously, we are plunged into nature.  Like it or not, we are here.  Yet, to every description I present, another can be stated to counter:  mosquitoes, allergies, April the cruelest month, and so on — come the spring.  So true:  ant and butterfly in our midst, pain and beauty within a day’s toil.

Grape Hyacinth on County Road, Front of Ranch House, March 19, 2010 (click to enlarge)

For the moment, however, this first day of spring, I want to mark the restoration of nature — oh, it’s not ever been that far away — with respect:  respect that The-Incomprehensible-Spirit-That-Moves-In-All-Things still animates the world despite corporate and individual behaviors that injure and destroy.  I include nothing mystical nor religious in using the word, “Spirit,” but rather I intend to refer to a force, an urging in nature and physical forces we encounter and do not completely understand.  I do not want to lose what we have, incomprehensible or not.  I seek restoration and preservation.

The Grove, March 20, 2010 (click to enlarge)

I think we can restore natural families we have damaged:  sagebrush, grouse, deer, shortgrass and fir.  I may, at the end of the day, be proven wrong in assuming we could correct ourselves, but for today I will walk with respect for spring in my pasture, stride through shrubs a’blooming in The Grove, and fervently hope that the restoration of nature will be fulfilled.

Restoration Short List for Flying Hat Ranchito

1.  Retard and prevent soil erosion in pasture with planting of native grasses.

2.  Give protection for deer migration in The Grove: allow brush to obscure their loafing areas.

3.  Seed native wildflowers in lanes and bypaths.

4.  Encourage pair of roadrunners return to arena area and cactus grove.

5.  Shred not high native grasses:  allow cover for birds and fox.

6.  Find strategy to encourage return of wild turkeys in pastures.

7.  Limit shredding substantially: allow grasses to seed out, encourage field mice, hawks.

8.  Build new brush piles to harbor wildlife.

Jack Matthews, March 17, 2010, Fredericksburg, Texas, Author of Sage to Meadow Blog (click to enlarge)


Filed under Life in Balance

Beginning: Red Ants

There is first a setting out, a beginning of all things.  Among the Huron in America, a woman fell from from the sky, hurling toward water.  Two loons that were flying over the water saw her and placed themselves beneath her to cushion her fall, holding her above the water, and calling for other animals to help hold her up.  The cry of the loon can be heard a long distance.  Animals came, including the turtle, and helped her, building earth from the bottom of the sea.  Here in the Southwest, among the Navaho, human beings emerged from the earth as red ants and red ants are the ancestors of those that walk the earth today on solid ground.

I remember my Uncle Floyd on his ranch in Cherokee, Texas, taking poison to the large red ant hills in the corrals and alleyways of the cattle pens.  Some ants died, but most of them survived the attack and continued to bring small stones to their portal.  The red ants never stung him, nor me.  Uncle Floyd eventually gave up the task and let them be.  The Navaho and other tribes collect the stones at the ant pile and place them in gourds to make rattles.  Uncle Floyd, Aunt Lennie, and I would attend the Methodist Church in Cherokee, Texas, and hear the minister read Genesis on how God created the earth and gave dominion of its creatures to man in the beginning.

I never assisted in putting the poison on the ant hills.  The red ants always looked so harmless and when I held one in my hand, there was no stinging, just a waving of the antenna and a deliberate attempt to find a way off of my boyish hand.  Today here on Flying Hat, I let the red ants live and bring their little stones to their entry holes.  I wonder how they place themselves down in the ground and what chambers they retire to.  Their pathways are so well-traveled on the surface that they may be two inches wide, devoid of vegetation, and a hundred-yards in length.  In Pecan Tree pasture, the ants have a lot of food from the side-oats gramma Cody Scott and I planted five-years ago.  In the area cleared around the ant hills, I can see the tracks of deer.  The word, deer, is traced back to an Indo-European hypothetical word meaning,  to breathe.

On our place here in Texas, the ants emerge from the earth and a deer signifying breath stands above them on solid ground brought up by turtles in ancient times to save the woman that fell from the sky in the beginning.


For method, N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain.  For Huron, Elsa A. Nystrom, Primary Source Reader for World History, volume I: to 1500.  For Navaho, divers sources including Washington Matthews, his Smithsonian series on Navaho singing chants.  See also Frank Waters, Masked Gods.


Filed under Colony Road, Recollections 1942-1966