White Cemetery Iris in Bloom

 , By Ronald Howard Livingston
on Friday, March, 18 2016 09:09:00 pm   , 164 words  
Categories: Uncategorized , 787 views

 

 

The White Cemetery Iris (Iris albicans), also known as the White Flag, or simply the Cemetery Iris, has been used for centuries for grave decoration. In part this is due to its origin in the arid Arabian Peninsula. Thus they are hardy enough to be left unattended indefinitely. Long used in cemetery plantings throughout North Africa, the White Cemetery Iris was eventually introduced through Spain to Europe and by the Spaniards brought into Mexico.

 

Iris albicans, so named in 1860 by the prominent Danish botanist Johan Martin Christian Lange, is a natural sterile hybrid of 44 chromosomes, believed to have resulted from a natural cross of a species with 40 chromosomes with a species of 48 chromosomes. It does not produce seeds but is spread only through rhizome growth and human-aided distribution and cultivation.

 

Shown here is the first 2016 bloom (14 March) in one of three beds of Cemetery Irises I have growing, started from rhizomes thinned in the early 1980's from near the grave of my great grandmother.

Spring Has Sprung

 , By Ronald Howard Livingston
on Monday, March, 07 2016 04:42:00 am   , 31 words  
Categories: Uncategorized , 447 views

 

 

It's starting to look and feel like spring. Yesterday I noticed this first iris to bloom this year on the slough. 

Here are some iris pics from a couple years ago.

An Interesting Nocturnal Encounter

 , By Ronald Howard Livingston
on Saturday, February, 06 2016 08:16:00 am   , 873 words  
Categories: Uncategorized , 613 views

With Super Bowl 50 approaching an unusual encounter which happened to me in the early morning hours of Super Bowl Sunday 2010 comes to mind.  I wrote about the incident in my Multiply (social network) blog in an entry I called "My Little Excellent Nocturnal Adventure." It was posted 8 February 2010, and is here re-posted.

 

 

It's not at all unusual for the electricity to go out here in this rural subdivision of fifty-plus houses along the slough.  In fact, Hurricane Ike gave its residents a prolonged spell of power outage of two weeks. (It did little good at that time to call the light company to tell them that power poles were snapped off at the ground on my lot right across the street.)  Anyhow, even during the mildest of weather, it seems barely to take much more than a hoot owl fart to knock out the power in the area. Overhanging limbs shaken loose by winds with each rain are most often the culprits.  Anyhow, this past (Super Bowl) Sunday [2010] morning, in the pre-dawn hours, I noticed that the electricity was off and in checking out the situation I had a rather unusual yet very pleasant encounter.

 

I've been dreading a huge white oak, killed by borers, falling toward the slough and thus taking down the lines that run along it, so as I stepped off the back stoop I shined my light to my left and over the garage. I then decided to walk across the driveway  and beyond to shine the light at the oak.  I walked on out beside the garage and to the slough in order to shine the light down it to the huge pasture at the end of the subdivision. There was nothing that I saw that could have knocked out the power, so I turned back toward the house with the intent of walking back behind the garage. As I did so, I shined the light down the slough in that other direction and saw eye-shine.  In fact, there were a lot of eyes shining. At the very first I thought a dog was near the water, but the eyes were too high from the ground to be a dog's.  The flashlight I had is a very bright, heavy-duty rechargeable and as I adjusted it to shine more directly I saw that I was looking at four whitetail deer hemmed in between the neighbor's hurricane fence and the slough. There is a spare lot that is grown up beyond the fence's end, and the deer seemed not to want to go further in that direction. The next neighbor, beyond the brushy lot has some border collies, and I believe the deer were aware of them.  This sighting alone (four deer right out the back door) was fascinating enough, even for here in a wooded area of coastal Texas, but what happened next was really unusual.

 

The lights for the entire area were off, and though it was a clear starry night, the moon wasn't out so it was really really dark.  I stood still, just shining the light. The deer slowly walked back in my direction. At the corner of the hurricane fence they paused briefly looking over the yard toward the roadway, but decided to continue in the same direction and then trotted straight toward me. As they got closer, I could see that all were bucks. Though one (the largest of the group) halted briefly and looked between the house and garage, he decided to continue with the others toward the light.  Their trot became a slow run, and I gradually moved to the very edge of the slough to give them room since not far from the slough and a bit behind me was the trellis behind the vegetable garden (and I didn't want to cause them to attempt to jump it).  The first to pass me was a four-pointer (two points on each antler) who gave a little snort as he hurried past. The next, likewise was a four-pointer with rather small irregular antlers.  The next one to pass had an antler missing but the one which it retained had about three or four points and would have had a trophy rack, had he not already lost the other antler.  Finally the last one, a gorgeous eight-point buck a bit larger than the others, passed by and once beyond me really sped up and then took off like lightning, as though the nearness of the light had suddenly frightened him. I could easily have reached out and touched any one as it passed.

 

I watched them run behind and then around the end of the trellis-fence (used to grow cucumbers and pole beans). I stood there a few moments longer to savor the experience, as big a rush as the time I was a bit farther along the slough during the late afternoon when a bald eagle swept from over the pasture down through the trees of my lots, over the back yard, and down and then over the slough.  Many people see the sight of a deer fleeing, running away from them, but few ever will have such an experience as this one of four bucks running to and beside them and beyond.

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