Saturday, November 18, 2006


Fall is an appropriate name for this time of the year. The last couple of days have been very breezy here and the leaves have been falling in record numbers. I usually keep the mower handy to mulch every few days to keep from getting too deep in leaves, but this year, due to some surgery, I have been unable to mow even once. I had forgotten just how many leaves a tree can produce! Despite the extra work, this is one of my favorite times of the year. ( Yes, I realize I say that with each change of season) The colors have been so beautiful this year. The red of the black gum, the yellow of the muscadine vine, the orange & yellow of the maple and sweet gum, I could go on & on. The mums have added color at ground level and hopefully I can get some pansies in the ground for color this winter. The temperature has been in the 30's this week and a heavy frost and below freezing temps are due in a couple of days, just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

One of my favorite plants in the yard is another pass-along plant from a dear friend called oak leaf hydrangea. It's one of those plants that looks good year round. The leaves are very large, green and oak shaped, hence the name. The flowers are creamy white and very showy in the late spring and summer and are even pretty when they start to dry out and die, changing to a bronzy pink color. The leaf color in the fall is also very pretty as you can see at right.....but when all the leaves have fallen, the plant has rusty brown stems that have peeling bark that is very pretty in itself. As much as I love spring and summer when everything greens up, I love the look of bare trees silhouetted against the sky. If I were an artist, I would paint the trees without leaves I think.
Nature provides beauty in every season and it is the same with life. The wonder and excitement of youth, the intensity of young adulthood, the satisfaction of middle age and the wisdom and contentment of the golden years. The downside to all of this is most of the time we are too busy to notice the beauty around us.... in nature or in life. It's time to slow down and smell the roses or in my case, rake the leaves!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Home Again

After leaving Petit Jean mountain, we crossed over to the NE corner of the State (where I grew up) to visit my dear Aunt Willie Mae. We enjoyed the drive, choosing to travel the back roads that we had never been down before. As we got closer to home, I began to get excited and had a strange longing to see places that once were so familiar to me. (have you ever noticed the area where we lived growing up is always referred to as home even though we haven't lived there in years?)
To my surprise, many things had changed since the last time we visited. New business and industry has moved in and roads were being widened and added, changing the landscape forever. But the most damaging of all, a tornado had ripped (literally) through the small town where I had attended grade school, wiping out homes, trees and buildings. Many of the landmarks in that town that were so familiar to me had vanished. The house where my first bus driver (Monk Rippy) lived....gone, the houses where his sons lived next door .... gone, the house my cousin first lived in....gone, lots wiped clean like the houses had never been there. Pieces of metal and other debris still appear in the hedge rows and fences.
The little town where my Aunt lives has gone through many changes since I was a child also. Like most small towns in the South, downtown has lost much of it's vitality and about all that is left is a gas station, a small grocery and a few other little businesses and the churches. It is still a good place to live for those who have never left. It always makes me a little sad each time I visit to see less and less of what I remembered as a child. The houses and yards seem smaller and the old friends and relatives fewer. I guess the old saying "you can't go home again" is true in that nothing ever stays the same including me.
However, I think we really never leave home at all. Even though I don't live in the same little community or even in the same State, all the memories and experiences, friends and family that made up my childhood are a part of who I am and they all made a contribution to the person I am today.
It was a good place to live and grow up and for all those friends and extended family, and all those memories and experiences, I am grateful.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mountain Top

The weather has once again warmed up considerably. What I had hoped to be a cool, fall week has turned out to be more like summer. The Arkansas mountains were still beautiful and the mornings were in the 60's, so coffee on the back porch was still something to look forward to. The drought conditions, though not as severe as here in North Louisiana, were evident in the lack of water in Cedar Creek and as you can see in the picture, the Cedar Creek Falls were more like Cedar Creek trickles. The hike down to the canyon floor to get to the falls is about an 8 on a scale of 1-10 in difficulty. Every year we go, I can't help but wonder if this is the last time I will make it back up the side of the mountain! It is always worth the effort and hopefully, we can make it a few more years. We were about 3 weeks too early for the fall color but sunset at the lodge every evening is breathtaking any time of the year. The sun seems to hang in the sky between the two mountains forever and then starts to slide down behind the horizon. Another one of my favorite things! More favorite things: flowers and berries along with rustic cabins, quiet evenings and misty mornings. I was disappointed to see a television in our cabin on this trip. Of course, we didn't have to turn it on, but just having it there left something to be desired with the whole idea of getting away from it all. The time passed too quickly and we weren't ready to leave the mountain and come back to the real world of hurry up and schedules to keep. But the mountains have been there for ages and there will be more vacations to take and trails to hike. Something to look forward to.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Surprises come in all shapes and sizes. Some are good and some are bad and some fall in between. A good surprise comes around this time every year when the temperature begins to drop a bit. Spots of dark pink or red spring up all over the yard in the most unexpected places. I don't know the scientific name for these unusual looking flowers, but surprise lily seems to fit perfectly. They surprise me by coming up when all else seems to be fading out, and I never seem to be expecting them, they just start showing up. They also surprise me in where they appear. I never remember planting them in that particular spot, they just pop up at will. They are strange looking plants, just stems sticking out of the ground with a bloom on top, but so pretty to look at.

This flower is yet another one that brings to mind memories of happy times past. I am not the only one in the family to notice when the lilies begin to bloom. When Shannon was just a little one, she would appear at the back door with a fist full of surprise lilies for mommy. She usually managed to pick every one in the yard but I could never be upset. One look at that sweet face and her little hand clutching the stems and holding them out to me is enough to melt any mother's heart. I still have that picture in my mind any time I see the lilies bloom.
The cool weather has been such a welcome relief from the heat of the summer. Dear Husband and I are taking a few days off and heading for a cabin in the Ozarks. I hope the cool weather continues as I am looking forward to coffee on the cabin porch on a cool autumn morning on top of the mountain. Does anything sound better that that? Hope all your surprises this week are good ones!

Monday, September 18, 2006


"Where did you come from baby dear? Out of the everywhere into the here" (George McDonald)

This weekend I finally got the opportunity to visit the Magnolia State and see the precious twins born just a month ago. My niece was so sweet and generous in bringing them over on Saturday and spending the whole day so we could hold, feed, change and love on them to our hearts content. Shannon is holding Benjamin who spent much of the time sleeping. He is just the sweetest baby boy and the whole time I held him, I thought, he is my favorite! Then I would take a turn at holding and rocking Hannah and would think, she is my favorite! I can have two favorites can't I? They are unique each in their own special way. I am looking forward to watching them grow and develop their own little personalities. Heather is such a good Mommy and I know they will have all the love and nurturing they need. They will surely not lack in extended family attention!

The swamp is seeing changes these days. We finally had rain last weekend and things are looking a little less brown and dusty. I am beginning to see a few yellow, red and orange leaves on the trees and the squirrels are busier than ever. Crisp mornings and cooler days have me in the mood to pull up tired periwinkles and plant purple, yellow and orange mums in their place. The mornings also find me searching the closet for long pants and no sandals since 52 degrees is a little chilly on bare legs and toes.
The fall wreath is on the door and I am waiting for the annual pumpkin patch to appear. I love picking out just a few to put at the back door for added fall color. I like the odd shaped and the ones that are the color of pumpkin pie with cinnamon best. I'm sure the hot weather will return again before the cool weather sets in for good, but I am enjoying the taste of autumn while it lasts.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

Labor: expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory. (definition according to Mr. Webster)
Today is the last holiday of summer, the day we have set aside to take a break from working. (as if we need an excuse) I have the day off from work, but have many chores planned that involve both physical and mental effort. This has always been a good weekend to do fall cleaning, getting the yard and flower beds ready for fall annuals and clearing out the faded and bloomed out spring plantings. I begin to bring out the fall decorations and most important of all ..........I put away the white shoes and purse of summer! I know this is an old fashioned tradition and yet, no matter how many of today's designers say it's ok to wear white year around.... I just can't do it. Wearing white shoes and carrying white purses only between Easter and Labor Day is ingrained into my very being. It doesn't bother me to see others wearing white off season, just can't do it myself.
Dear Husband has to work today and daughter and son-in-law are working on their house remodel, so I have no excuse for not getting my chore list accomplished, and I have already worked the crossword puzzle (so much for the mental effort.) I still have to clean house, iron, pay bills, cut grass, and cook for the hungry bunch (the compulsory physical effort.)
If I hurry, I might just have a few minutes to actually sit and rest on this bench!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Devil is in the Details

I have often heard that expression, but experienced it first hand this past week. It was one of those weeks that every little thing that could go wrong.....did. The simplest tasks became difficult and it seemed like no matter how hard I worked, nothing was being accomplished. On top of all that, the promised cooler temps (mid 90's) only lasted a day at the most and the rain that fell was almost to little to measure. The St. Augustine is about to give up altogether and even the potted plants are suffering in spite of frequent watering and feeding. But it could be worse. The air conditioner still works and surely there is cooler weather somewhere in the future. We are also fortunate that God did not create us to molt like the cardinal in the picture. They are ratty and tattered looking right now, and appear to have a plague of some sort. But we all know that this winter, when they appear at the feeder, they will be bright and beautiful birds once again. So as hot, dry and droopy as everything around here is (including me this week) there is hope that on a different day we will once again feel lively and looked refreshed. No matter how many details the devil manages to get into, like the molting cardinal, this too shall pass.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Good Things

It is often said that good things come in pairs and that has proven true in our family. Our niece, who has been with child for some 8 months 2 weeks and counting, delivered a pair of twins Friday. One girl, Hannah (8lbs +) and one boy, Benjamin (6lbs +) and a very happy mother to have this part of motherhood over with. As I understand it, Mother and children are doing well even though it was a difficult delivery. Since they are in Mississippi and I am in Louisiana, I haven't seen for myself as yet, but hope to before too long. I wish them a long, happy, successful life.
Another 100+ degree day is in store for us today, one of too many to count this August. I managed to cut grass this morning while the Dr. Pepper thermometer on the back porch was still in the double digits. I had planned to mow each afternoon this week, but when at 7pm it still registered at 100, I decided it could wait. The not so clear picture is the fall clematis now blooming. I am surprised since it has been so hot and dry, but evidently that doesn't bother this plant. It perfumes the whole back yard in the evening and such a welcome sight among the faded plants of spring. Things are looking up though. We have the promise of cooler temps (all the way down to mid 90's!) and a slight chance of a shower on the swamp this week. It is all in the way we look at things. Life is full of blessings, like the two new additions to the family to fill our hearts with joy and fall clematis blooming to please our sight and fill our senses with fragrance.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


The daylight hours are beginning to shorten, school has started and even though the temperature is still hovering around 100, I can tell fall is on the way. I have to admit, I am looking forward to cooler mornings, colorful leaves, and mowing grass less frequently but I do NOT like less sunlight. I know why God placed me in the south and not in Alaska. I could not survive 6 months of darkness! We are still in drought conditions and under a burn ban on the swamp. It is a struggle just to keep things alive until rain falls again. The dry weather and excessive heat are just too much for many of the annuals I planted with such hope and promise last spring. Oh well, as the Teacher says, "to everything there is a season," and this is the season of pitiful petunias, sad begonias and droopy hydrangeas.
The only thing that is thriving without too much effort is the portulaca I planted in the "expanded" round bed resulting from the Mother's day gift. I counted on it to spread fast and bloom extensively and it did not disappoint. The only problem with portulaca-- it only blooms in the morning. Just can't have it all.
With so much going on in the world, high gas prices, terrorist red alert, war in the middle east, drought at home and the list goes on, it's always a comfort to know some things stay the same such as the seasons. Even though I don't like shorter daylight days, I do like fall and winter and spring and summer and look forward to each season as it comes. As for all the bad news of today, once again as the Teacher says, "there is nothing new under the sun." Nothing is a surprise to God and that my friends is the greatest comfort of all!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days

The days of summer stretch on. We finally had rain this week, an all night, all day, soaking rain, totaling three and a half inches. I don't think I have ever slept so well or been so happy to be wet. The grass and flowers were dancing in joy and the birds were able to bathe without fighting over the bird bath. Everything is suddenly green again, a miracle to me after looking dead, or nearly so, in the 100+ heat of July. Of course, this means the yard needs mowing and little weeds are popping up here and there in the beds, but even that doesn't dampen my spirits.
On the other hand, with the lovely rain, the humidity returned with a vengeance. The air is absolutely liquid and even though the temperature is in the high 80's or low 90's, it only takes minutes outdoors to become soaked to the skin without any physical exertion at all. Another joy of living in the south.
So much for the flora on the swamp. The fauna are as active as ever. The cardinals are molting and really ratty looking now. There seem to be more doves feeding than usual and of course the raccoons are still nightly visitors. The hawks are still hunting around the house. I can always tell when one is coming over, the birds at the feeder do the vanishing act. Of course, the white cat has the same effect on them. All else is quiet, just the usual passing of time, enjoying the last few weeks of summer in the south and looking forward to the change of seasons and cooler temperatures.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Dog Days

The dog days of summer have arrived on Cypress Knee Swamp. The temperature and humidity rise as the day progresses and even the nights are warm and muggy. Thunder boomers can be heard in the afternoons, but they are hit or miss and so far we have been in the miss category. The water bill is another"dog days" indicator. If we had a dog, he would probably spend most of his time lying around in the coolest spot he could find.
The dog days don't seem to bother the squirrels. They are busier and more plentiful than ever. The raccoons are also active and brave little critters. We looked out the window and they were making their way toward the house looking for something to eat. David hadn't put corn in the feeder that evening and I guess they were letting us know it was supper time!
It would be nice to be able to slow down and take it easy while the weather is so hot, but alas, the grass still grows, the flowers have to be fed and watered, supper has to be cooked, clothes washed and life goes on. Sometimes a dogs life doesn't seem so bad.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fourth of July

Althea, Crepe Myrtle, Magnolia, Kudzu, Gardenia, Sweet Tea, soft spoken words where terms of endearment like Honey, Sugah and Sweetie Pie are used to address one another (you don't actually have to know the person to call them these names either) and, most importantly, family.
All these words remind me of the Old South and the State of Mississippi where I spent the 4th of July weekend. We were fortunate to have an extended weekend so we took the opportunity to visit my family in Mississippi.
One of our nieces is expecting....TWINS.....a boy and a girl and I especially wanted to see her before the babies come later this summer. David always looks forward to a golf game with a nephew and the youngest niece and husband are always so fun to be around. We ate, visited on the patio, ate, shopped, ate, told funny stories and jokes, ate some more and ended the last night watching a video that had us all laughing. I ooohd and ahhhhed over the twins nursery and my heart was so thankful at all the wonderful gifts the babies have received. They are already blessed!

We crossed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg and stopped at the Visitor Center to stretch our legs. The flags flying and the history of the battle that occured there in July over a hundred years ago were fitting reminders that we truly have something to celebrate on this Independence Day. I am thankful for every man and woman that served our country to make our freedom possible.
Even though I have lived in Louisiana for over 30 years, I am still always a little sad when it is time to leave my family and come home. It was a good visit and a good holiday.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Another of the brightest summer flowers blooming now is the daylily. It is so cheerful and colorful, how could anyone help but love it? Like old fashioned flowers often do, it reminds me of my childhood. My first memories were of living in an unpainted house down a country lane(John Grisham is not the only Arkansan to live in one of these). It had a porch across the front and at one end a pink rose bush that smelled heavenly like a rose bush should. A hogwire fence separated the yard from the cotton patch and planted along that fence were Rose of Sharon trees, some of which provided the occasional switch needed to straighten out little girls. In the back yard was a big walnut tree and in the corner was a patch of flags or daylilies. Every summer when they bloomed they looked like little orange flags waving in the breeze. They were simple blooms and could be seen in just about every country yard and garden. They are still blooming and waving their bright faces in northeastern Arkansas, in fence rows, side ditches, along railroad tracks and anywhere else they are allowed to remain. Now they are blooming in my Louisiana country yard as well.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sunflower Trail

"Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock". (Henry W. Beecher)

This afternoon, Dear Husband and I took a drive in the country along the Sunflower Trail. The villages of Dixie, Belcher and Gilliam are host to the most beautiful fields of sunflowers each year. The Planters along the river provide the bright, golden yellow faced flowers along the road and in the right of ways. There are acres of these beautiful summer flowers with a spot for cutting your own bouquet to take home. There is a festival that provides arts, crafts and of course, good country food. It is something I look forward to each year, and this year did not disappoint.This plain, honest flower" is one of the most beautiful and one of my favorites.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Feathered Friend

Our pair of little yellow birds are back, working on another family. This time they definitely set up housekeeping in the gourd under the porch. Why they changed address I haven't a clue. Maybe because it is a cooler spot, out of the sun since it is much hotter now than when they started the first family.
Here is a picture, although not a great one, but if you enlarge (click) you can get a better view.
The baby hawks are hunting like old timers now. We have seen and heard them out in the front acre, looking for a tasty morsel to nibble on. We finally had some rain, about an inch and a half, and everything has been refreshed from birds to people. Unfortunately, along with the rain came the heat and humidity. Gotta love the liquid air of the south in summertime!
Summertime also brings garden veggies. We have had fresh pinto beans, tomatoes, squash, and sweet corn on the cob this week thanks to the generosity of those who have gardens and share. This takes me back to my childhood on the farm. Mother always had a large garden and something was always ready to pick, shell, wash or peel. And if that wasn't enough to keep us busy, the job I hated the most, the washing of the fruit jars in a galvanized wash tub!
It's funny that something that was such a chore then is such a treat now. Maybe that is why we consider them the "good ole days". It takes getting older to appreciate them.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Hot Time in the Old Town

Even though it is only the middle of June, here on Cypress Knee Swamp, it is summertime. The projected high is 98 degrees and if that isn't summer, I don't know what is. I am glad the grass is already cut this week, I would hate to be out doing that today. Reminds me of the old song "Summertime and the livin' is easy". When the temperature heats up, I tend to slow down and take it easy!
The yard is still looking really good, flowers blooming and grass green, but if these temps continue without rain, things will start to fade out pretty quickly.
The swamp is still alive with nature sounds. Early this morning, while drinking coffee by the gazebo, I heard seemingly hundreds of bird calls. I can't identify the different sounds, but I could tell there were lots of baby or young birds calling. I guess most have hatched by now. Yesterday, as I was watering the yard, a baby blue jay came up to the magnolia to take a bath in the sprinkler. He was just too cute, he still had fluffy down feathers in some places. The yellow warblers have set up housekeeping again, this time in the gourd under the porch. We're watching for more little babys.
Other than that, things are mostly quiet on the swamp. We still have the raccoons coming at night to feed on corn and the turtles have been laying eggs everywhere. Most are dug up and eaten before they get a chance to hatch, however, there seems to be no shortage of turtles, so there's bound to be some surviving. Mother Nature at work is always fascinating.
Live easy!
Aunt C

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Brave New World!

The yellow warblers come every year to nest in the little blue cottage under our porch. This year they raised three babies and Shannon was home to catch this little one on the brink of its first flight. This is number two on the perch and he bravely flew all the way to the windmill on his first try. (number 3 is peaking out behind and was not nearly as brave or eager to leave as the other two).
I was outside yesterday afternoon and heard the hawks calling to their babies, so I ran to grab my binoculars and sure enough, the two baby hawks were practicing take offs and landings in and out of the nest. They are the only birds I have noticed that fly back to their nest several times before leaving for good. They are so graceful and beautiful in the air. They are also very large babies! They look like giants beside the little warbler babies.
We spent the afternoon enlarging that round flower bed to match the size of the the windmill. Dear husband and I realize once again, we are not as young as we used to be! It was hot out, but a breeze blew making it bearable and even enjoyable. I will post a picture once it is finished, (if it doesn't kill us in the process)
Tomorrow is Memorial Day and I am always reminded of the great sacrifice so many gave for the freedom I have to plant a garden, watch the birds hatch or a million other things I am allowed to do without fear. We are planning to cook burgers, enjoy family and wave the flag with pride!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Garden Tour

This has been another beautiful weekend! The weather is cool at night but getting summertime hot during the day. We are really short on rain this month and the sprinkler is on to give the flowers a needed drink this evening. A friend and I spent Saturday on a garden tour in the small but lovely city of Minden. This is the first year their garden club has sponsored a tour and it was a huge success. We started out early since there were five different gardens to see. I included a picture of one of my favorites. One was a cottage garden with lots of whimsy and yard art. The other favorite was a manicured yard with a woodland side garden.

Of course once we finished the tour, we had to make a stop by the garden center for a take home souvenir. (that means a plant in case you are not a gardener)
I always find a new or unusual plant on these tours and this one was no exception. At the cottage garden, we saw a sweep of blue flowers in the front and when I found out it was Lespedeza I was surprised. I think my Dad used to plant that as a cover crop! It was really pretty in bloom. Another new plant to me was Ardisia Crenata. It has dark green foliage and a cluster of beautiful dark red berries that hang from under the leaves. It was used in a woodland garden and the red berries stood out like lights among the green background. Of course, that is what we chose to purchase as our souvenir.
My friend did a little research and found out this is a tropical, shade loving plant that has almost become invasive in Florida......just my luck! I am going to plant it anyway. If it takes over, I guess I will just have to move.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day has been especially special this year. Friday, when I came home from work, my son-in-law and daughter had cut the grass and the yard looked so nice, but as I turned the curve into the driveway, this bed caught my eye! I have wanted a windmill for some time and they, along with dear husband got it for me and set it up in the flower bed for me to see when I came home. I was so surprised and delighted!
The only drawback is now I will have to make the flower bed larger to compensate for the size of the windmill, but that is a drawback not to me, but alas to poor husband who will have to dig it out for me! He may be sorry he ever thought of this. (He also gave me a neat cultivator tool that will come in handy when I add more plants to the bed)

As wonderful as this gift is and as much as I love it, it is not the best gift. Having my daughter and son-in-law living back in Louisiana is the best gift I could have ever received. I am blessed to have a wonderful mother myself, a wonderful mother-in-law and an wonderful daugter, husband and son-in-law. What more could I want?

Friday, May 05, 2006


"When I see wild roses on a fence line or smell lilacs in bloom, I'm a kid again. When I hear the coo of a mourning dove or hear the whistle of a steam engine, I still feel young. The sharing of a rainbow in spring, admiring a lovely sunset, or watching birds in the yard takes me back to my childhood." (Amy Edeker from "The Sixty")
For me, it is the smell of honeysuckle and the whippoorwill song. Unfortunately, we have no whippoorwills around here and it has been years since I've heard one. Their sound always reminds me of spring planting time, sitting on the front porch with the whippoorwill calling and waiting for the sound of the tractor coming from the field. That meant Daddy was coming in for supper. Spring evenings on the farm were always filled with sounds of nature and the flash of fireflies and watching the rabbits in the yard doing what we called the "rabbit dance," hopping around snacking on clover.

The smell of honeysuckle always brings a feeling of happiness. In our little community, we have a great place to walk. The walking path is five eights of a mile and passes a prayer garden, an open field filled with wildflowers, crosses a small creek (really just a drainage ditch but creek sounds better) and has a fence row filled with redbud, crepe myrtle and you guessed it, honeysuckle. It is blooming now and everytime I pass by and smell the sweet blooms, my thoughts go to my childhood and memories of playing outdoors with my sisters. It was a time of sunshine, fresh air, swinging on the tire swing, playing house with jar lid dishes and honeysuckle flower arrangements.
Most gardners view honeysuckle as an invasive pest, and I admit, I don't like it in my flower beds, but hopefully, I will always have a vine on the fence somewhere. Childhood memories are welcome from time to time.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Swamp Critters

Life on the swamp is busy as usual. One afternoon, Shannon and I saw racoons, rabbits, the always present squirrels and a white cat (he appeared from nowhere a few days ago and shows up from time to time, hiding under the azaleas hoping to catch a bird). One of the racoons has a bum leg and seems to feed more and shows up earlier in the evening than the others.

The Indigo Buntings are here and I think they are my favorite! They have taken over the thistle feeders overflowing to the regular feeder as well. I love their color of blue! I think I need a dress that color.
Daughter and son-in-law are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary with a trip to Hot Springs, so it has been quiet around here. The buntings are a reminder of their wedding. The reception, as I said in an earlier post, was held in our back yard and we saw the bride and groom off by throwing birdseed. To my surprise and delight, for the next few days I had a flock of Indigo Buntings feeding outside my kitchen window and I have looked forward to their return every year.
We have had rain so everything in the yard is green and the newly planted annuals along with the returning perennials are looking good. April, May and part of June are the best times for flowers in my part of the world. After that, the heat and humidity start taking toll and it is a battle just to keep things alive.
Since all is quiet, I think I will take a little afternoon nap, it's Sunday, but Monday's a comin' soon!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Rose by any Other Name....

As I mentioned in a previous posting, my mother has a green thumb which results in a beautiful yard. She has next to her patio a rose bush that is a real beauty and she told me the name was Rio Samba(or Rio Somba not sure of spelling). Well, I decided I had to have one, so I went last spring to my local nursery and purchased the very last one they had on the lot. I watered, fed and waited with great expectation for the blooms. In case you are not familiar with that particular rose, the blooms resemble a flaming sunset, with all the red, yellow and orange that go with it. Each rose is different and breathtakingly beautiful. Imagine my surprise when my rose bloomed red. It is a really pretty rose and the blooms are large and showy, it's just not a Rio Samba!
As disappointed as I am, there is a bright side. I like the rose I have, it is disease resistant and a good bloomer, and best of all, I get to make another trip to the nursery to purchase still another rose and probably a few more plants as well!!!
I went to Jefferson, Tx today with my daughter and son-in-law to hit the antique shops. A classic car show was in progress, so we shopped minus the son-in-law. Lots of really amazing cars...much time and $$$$ spent on restoring or building them. I rescued another vintage dinette cloth (that's how I justify having all these tablecloths in my closet) and found a couple of pretty dishes. We traveled the backroads to get there and the wild flowers are worth the trip if nothing else. It was a good day.

Friday, April 14, 2006

For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing of birds has come. Yes, spring is here.
Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Another pass-along plant from a former co-worker is blooming and it is truly one of my favorites - mostly because of its color. It is not the usual dark purple or light blue iris, but a gorgeous lavender color. It is planted in several places in the yard and every time I get a glimpse of the color it makes me smile.
The Louisiana iris is blooming now also and the roses have begun to open the fat buds of first bloom which are always the largest and most beautiful of the season in my yard. This is Good Friday and I have the day off. The grocery store is a must today in order to be ready to cook Easter dinner but I hope to have time for the yard also. Shannon helped me clean the gazebo yesterday, washing away the thick layer of yellow pollen from the floor and all the furniture. It's now ready for anyone wanting to spend a little quiet time reading, bird watching (or I should say critter watching, you see much more than birds if you sit quietly for a while) or just catching a quick nap.

While nature has been in resurrection for several weeks now, it serves to remind us of the most important Resurrection. We celebrate The Resurrection is this Sunday. He is risen! He is risen indeed! May the Risen Lord bless you this day!

Friday, April 07, 2006


Character: to be true to your work, your word and your friends. (author unknown) Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if everyone had character?

The clematis I planted year before last is blooming like crazy. I took this picture and didn't realize until I had downloaded it that I had captured a lizard also. (click on the picture to enlarge)
I took a bouquet of purple iris, blue and pink Spiderwort, pink and purple verbena and wild phlox to work today. The perfume of the phlox was heavenly and made me want to be outside working in the yard instead of inside answering the phone.

Red-bellied woodpeckers, doves, and a red-headed woodpecker were seen at the feeder and on the tree behind today. The yellow warblers are back, building their nest in the little blue box. We see the ducks from time to time swimming in the swamp. Sorry my camera is not powerful enough to get a good shot of the hawk nest. It is very high up in the tree, but very large and the most interesting thing to watch, especially when the babies have hatched. The swamp is busy day and night and there is always something to watch. Just not enough hours in the day! Especially with working on my character and all..........

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Pass-along plants

I love pass-along plants and one of my favorite
is the St. Joseph's lily. I have had this plant
since we moved into our first home on the lake.
It was in the yard when we moved there and
I brought it with me 25 years ago when we
moved to our current home.
It is a bright, gaudy red and it makes me
happy everytime it blooms

It brings back fond memories of our daughter Shannon's wedding. The reception was held in our back yard and the St. Joseph Lilies were spectacular that April. The wedding was on the 26th and I was praying the blooms would last until the reception and they did, dying out the day after. I have divided and shared this plant with many friends.

Other favorite pass-along plants I have received and shared with others include rosemary, shasta daisies, verbena, English dogwood, red honeysuckle and the list goes on and on. If you are a gardener, you probably have your own favorites passed from friend to friend, generation to generation. The return each year of a favorite plant or flower is a precious reminder of the one who passed it along to you. I have some plants from David's grandmother's yard in Alabama and treasure them each time they bloom. Sights and fragrances bring memories of time spent with friends and family like few other reminders.
Happy Gardening and enjoy the walk down memory lane!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April on Cypress Knee

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in words alone;
but in every leaf in springtime. -Martin Luther
I read this quote for the first time today and identified with those words written so many years ago. Every thing in nature seems to be coming alive again. April has arrived on the swamp with warm temperatures and soft breezes. The lake is still up but there has been no sign of the ducks for several days. I am hoping they are busy nesting somewhere. I heard the hawks screaming a call to each other several times today. David saw a copperhead on the street during his run the other morning so I guess warm weather is officially here to stay. I am watching the wild pecan trees for leaves. They are the last to leaf each spring.
I had lunch with some friends at a tea room today and enjoyed visiting with the hostess. Her name is Carolyn also and she is a very talented lady and a wonderful cook. I enjoyed the meal and most of all the time spent with precious friends. As I arrived, to my delight, the lawn was covered in lavender wisteria blooms. The tree at the corner of the driveway had a large wisteria vine winding around to the top of a very tall tree and the blooms were falling like rain. It was like walking in a fairy tale! I'm looking forward to more April flowers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Springtime on Cypress Knee Swamp

It's resurrection time! The trees are greening and the grass is growing. George Tabor & Formosa azalea buds are fat and ready to open. The dogwood tree is in bloom and the yellow jasmine is winding down. Spring is in full swing on Cypress Knee Swamp. We have had rain off and on for the past two weeks and the swamp is full of water at last. Mr. & Mrs. Mallard have been seen swimming around so I will be on the look out for babies in days to come. The hawks are busy nesting and the feeders are still brimming with finches. They can clean out a thistle feeder in a little over a day.
This is my favorite time of year. Every day as I walk in the yard something changes. I planted a viburnum several years ago and it has never bloomed. By last spring my patience was exhausted and I intended to cut it down and plant something else in it's place but never got around to it. I mentioned to David I needed to have it cut this spring, but to my surprise, it is loaded with blooms! Do you think plants can sense when they have pushed a gardener to the limit and start performing as God intended?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

It seems that we have skipped spring and gone directly to summer here on the Cypress Knee Swamp. The temperature has registered 85+ degrees all week and I feel the need to turn on ceiling fans and wear lighter clothing. The pelicans have gone south but the pesky blackbirds are still around. The wood ducks should be showing up soon to start their families providing we get enough rain to have water in the bayou behind the house.

Of course, the wrens are busily building nests in anything that is still for more than a minute or two including shoes, flower pots and empty baskets on the porch. The squirrels are digging anywhere they think they may have hidden nuts from the fall and wildflowers are covering my yard. Tiny white, lavender, purple, yellow and bright pink blooms spring up here and there while daylilies, daisies and sedum begin to poke their leaves up through the leaves and mulch in response to the warm temperature and sunshine.

The resurrection of seemingly dead plants lifts my heart and soul each spring. I can't wait to get out and dig in the dirt and I guess I inherited that from my parents. Mother has a beautiful yard and garden each year and Daddy was a cotton and soybean farmer who loved the land and growing things. For a girl who couldn't wait to "get off the farm" the smell of fresh turned earth is like perfume to me now! I think I'll go outside and spend some time working in those flower beds today because it is still March and you never know how long this beautiful weather will last.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Cypress Swamp

The cypress knee swamp is enveloped in a soft, quiet fog. Visibility is limited and the world seems smaller since I can only see to the trees in the back yard and not much further. The birds seem oblivious to the clouds visiting the earth and are feeding as usual. David bought a couple of thistle feeders and the gold finches have invaded by the dozens and they are waiting in line for a chance at breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime in between. Their activity is a bright spot in an otherwise grey day. There are still a few pelicans on the lake, but probably for not much longer.
The weather is supposed to improve as the week comes to a close. Maybe I will have more interesting activities from the swamp to report with the return of sunshine.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cold Icy Rain and Red Birds

The icy weather has arrived. The temperature is hovering at freezing and a cold, sleety rain is falling. The birds are in a feeding frenzy especially the Cardinals. Flashes of bright red dart to and from the feeders accompanied by rust colored females along with chickadees, sparrows, snow birds and a titmouse or two.
The spring flowers are trying to bear up under the wintery conditions and from experience I know they will bounce back with the first hint of warmer weather. In Louisiana, we have a saying, "if you don't like the weather, wait 24 hours, it will change".

All else is quiet on Cypress Knee Swamp. Most critters have headed for a warm and dry place to wait out what we in the south call winter. I am thankful for a warm, dry place to hibernate myself. I am truly a "fair weather" lady and that is why I love the south where warm days and sunshine abound. Til they return, I'll look at seed catalogues and plan for sunshine and warmer days .

Friday, February 17, 2006

The weatherman's prediction has come to pass. Winter has returned with possibility of icy rain tonight and tomorrow. The yard is covered in blackbirds, cleaning out the feeders and gobbling up any morsel of food they can find. I think they must have heard the report also and are stocking up "just in case".
The skies are gray and it is a good day to bake cookies, read a book or watch an old movie. I think God gives us gray days for just that reason. Our spirits, minds and bodies need to cuddle up, eat some comfort food, and relax into the day. I have spent the morning reflecting on what I heard last night. Jennifer Rothchild spoke at a local church concerning what she has learned from her walk in the dark. (Jennifer has been blind since her teens) One of the things she said has settled in my heart, "don't let your fear overcome your faith". For someone who tends to get caught up in my circumstances, good advice.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Life on Cypress Knee

This is a place to share with friends and family from time to time.

Name: Carolyn F. Location: Louisiana, USA

Today doesn't seem like winter in Louisiana. The temperature is in the 70's and as I look out my window, the yard has a look of spring. I see Saucer Magnolias, King Alfreds, and Forsythia in bloom. The weatherman says more winter is coming, but I will enjoy the fair weather while it is here. The birds have been a bright spot all winter, making up for the bare trees and brown grass with their color, grace and beauty feeding at the different feeders in the back yard. We noticed the hawks working on their nest yesterday. They have been raising families in the big oak tree for several years now and we look forward to seeing the new babies each spring. Will keep you posted on their progress.