Back Home Again

    We’re back home in Texas after a cool couple of weeks in the southern Rockies of New Mexico. We love it there, with wonderful views of the clouds spilling over the mountains and cattle grazing in the valley below. It’s a long drive–almost 12 hours–but we have audio books to listen to and […]

Read More

New Mexico Sunflowers

It’s late summer here in the New Mexico mountains, almost autumn, and the meadows are filled with the rich gold of sunflowers, accentuated by tall spires of mullein. We’ll be here another week or so, enjoying the warm days and crisp, cool nights–a big change from the uncomfortable heat and humidity back in Texas. The […]

Read More

Mesquite Season in the Hill Country

It’s mesquite bean season here at Meadow Knoll, and as usual, our honey mesquite trees are loaded. These were a prized native food, rich in plant protein, calcium. potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. The beans were usually ground into flour and baked as a flat cake or mixed with venison and smoked or dried as […]

Read More

LifeScapes: Button Bush and a Major Chicken Event

The button bushes (Cephalanthus occidentalis) that grow along our little creek are in full bloom just now, their round, highly symmetrical blossoms delighting the bees, hummingbirds and butterflies–especially the giant swallowtails, no doubt graduated from the larvae that completely stripped my dill this spring. No problem, though.  I plant much more dill than I need. […]

Read More

BookScapes: The Real Lolita

Now that the new website is organized and functioning, I’m planning to add something new: reviews of books I’m reading or (if they’re still worth thinking about), books I’ve read in the past. I’m a voracious reader of all kinds of books: genre fiction, literary fiction, nonfiction, and I’ve been reviewing books here and there […]

Read More

Sunflowers: In Bloom This Week

                Every year, the sunflowers bloom along our lane, as dependable as the sun itself. This native sunflower is Helianthus annuus–native, that is, to the Americas, although it has now traveled around the planet. The Americans who were here before us used every part of the sunflower. They […]

Read More

A Few Favorite Flubs

There’s only one hard-and-fast rule about writing: No book is ever perfect. A corollary to that rule: once a mistake is in print in a physical book, it stays in print. Books are like buildings: they’re there until (*shudder*) they’re burned or bulldozed in the landfill. Of course, authors and publishers do whatever they can […]

Read More

In bloom this week: Flame flower

Our native Standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) has some other, more appealing names: flame flower, Texas plume, scarlet gilia. A biennial, it grows wild in our meadow. Its ferny first-year growth flourishes in dry, gravel-y soil; if we get good rains, the bloom stalk can grow to five feet or more. Here in the Hill Country, […]

Read More

Birds of a Feather

The painted bunting has been called “the most beautiful bird in North America,” and I believe it. He’s certainly the prettiest native bird I’ve ever seen. These birds winter in Mexico and points south, migrating north for the summer. For the past couple of years, at least two breeding pairs have arrived at Meadow Knoll […]

Read More

Milkweeds and Monarchs

I love this tidy little plant, which is sending its silvery seed parachuting across our meadows this week. The Monarch butterfly larvae love it too, and feed on exclusively on it. Like other milkweeds, this one (Asclepius asperula) contains toxic cardiac glycosides that make the adult Monarch distasteful (phew!) to potential predators–an effective way to stay alive […]

Read More