My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The War of the Seasons

January 23, 2017

Yes, I know, the calendar says it's winter, but when I'm wearing my shorts and T-shirt, it's hard to tell.  I'm pretty sure winter dropped in for a quick visit , early this month, when we had two nights of twenty-three degrees. The natives ran to the store to stock up for those horrendous conditions. But in their defence, we COULD of had a little rain that would freeze on the bridges.

But other evidence is not as clear cut as the calendar. Winter camellias are in bloom, but the blooms are not lasting long, probably due to temps in the mid to high 70's with a couple of days hitting 80. Spring flowering shrubs are blooming and bulbs are starting to grow. And there are still fall leaves to be found. (But very few - so I think we can rule them out.) But then, I'm not sure fall happened at all, or happened for only a few days. The October fall day I arrived here, was the hottest day I'd experienced all summer. (But that isn't much of an argument because I spent the summer in downeast Maine where the temperature was mostly in the 70's.)

For sure it WAS winter during the week of January 8- 14.  Of course, it was also pretty summery for some of those days.

I am still going to Physical Therapy three days a week at seven o'clock.  Then I go on to work out in a gym.  But last Monday, the weather was so soft and the light so beautiful, that I had to stay outside.  I decided to go the the LSU Ag Station Research Center, just down the street from my house.  This place trials trees and shrubs, as well as garden flowers including a huge collection of camellias.  The grounds are so extensive, it is easy to be able walk a few miles while wandering among the little garden plots. There I collected data on several seasons, all jumbled up.

A magnificant magnolia grandiflora-but it doesn't have buds so I can't use it to determine the season

Redbuds are definitely early spring bloomers

The sky was the perfect blue to compliment their pink

Shy camilla bud - late fall through winter

Another camillia

Flirty camillia

If you can't decide to be one or the other, just be both

This giant live oak is still in winter mode - it should both lose its leaves and
start new ones in late February or early March

A view of a gazebo under the pines. They too are replacing their needles which
 they mostly do in the fall

A bank of azalea bushes in bloom  - spring flowers

Sometimes the blossoms occur as twins

But some varieties are almost in a spray form

 Bees were enjoying this azelea

This view is of our typical winter view, with mostly brown colors

But behind me, this saucer magnolia is starting to flower

A closer view

And a very close view into a bloom

Another variety of saucer of magnolia

This saucer magnolia had very skinny petals

Some saucer magnolias just barely out of the bud stage

Blood lilies were just pushing up out of the ground

Holly berries lingered - for a winter feel

A long row of these shrubs had heavy berries and evergreen leaves - another vote for winter

Several citrus trees had had their fruit destroyed by the freeze. But wildlife
and bees were enjoying it - this is a late fall/winter experience

Another winter delight - the remains of seed pods - this is Hibiscus mutabilis 

Gotta be early spring if the red maples are blooming. 

I'm still confused.  What do you think? But I'm looking forward to visiting other gardens in just a few more weeks. By late February, we should be moving quickly into full Spring.  The ever climbing temperatures seem to be resulting in us almost losing winter and extremely shortening spring and fall.  So glad I can at least migrate from the long, hot, humid summers. 

January 28, 2017 - 6:0 AM

This is the first morning I've heard our resident barred owls calling their mating calls. So beautiful and so wintery. And the low temperatures for the next five days will be in in the forties, so my basil kids have to come inside. So I think we will be in winter - probably for the last time, for the next five days. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Best Christmas Gifts: Paddleless Christmas Bird Count

I had to go back to Houston for a few social events, a haircut, and a visit to my surgeon.  Christmas bird counts were still going on and I ALMOST got around to looking the dates up, when I got an email from my friend and leader of several parts of several counts, Bruce. He invited me to the San Jacinto Wilderness Christmas Count, and said my friend, Bob had volunteered to paddle me.  I called Bob, and he said yes, that was all true, and he had already sent me an email. Further, he would need to borrow Natalie's canoe.  Natalie was still visiting her mother for Christmas, so I got permission to borrow the canoe and Bob picked it up. Then Bob and I met at a New's Party and I followed him home and slept on his couch so we could be leave at 5:30A.M.

We got to Lake Houston Wilderness Park a little before dawn and, by the time it was getting light, there several people committed enough to spend New Year's Day out on the streams, counting birds. I hauled our lifejackets and paddles the long way down to the put-in.  After that I mostly just took pictures and helped find the very few birds we saw.  We ended up doing an up and back paddle, so we counted seven and a half  miles for the bird count but fifteen miles of total paddling. I was the most rested at the end of the trip because I only dipped my paddled into the water to help steer through a couple of tight corners - we explored several little side waterways.

My first view of Peach Creek

Bob arriving with our canoe

Traffic is getting heavier

Taking this pre paddling picture was the first hard job of the day as three of us set up 4 cameras
 and ran to our places.  My personal favorite picture my camera
took was of Bruce - on the front, from the rear. Then he got faster. 

Getting on the creek

Waiting for the rest

Bruce leading us out 
A little visiting went on

My hard working paddler

Our lunch stop

Harmon jumping a log from a little area most of us stayed out of

There I was doing the hard work while Bob merely moved us through the water

Birds were in such short supply that finding this snowy egret was exciting

And he had this little buddy, a killdeer

This tree, heavily draped in Spanish moss, caught my eye

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Best Christmas Gifts: Adventure Three

December 21, 2016

Disclaimer: This is going to be long. I had hundreds of pictures and these are the fewest I could not give up. 

My last adventure with Steve and Charie  (you'll have to read the previous posts if you are in the dark here) was a visit to the French Quarter in New Orleans. We left their RV which was parked at Bayou Segnette State Park, a beautiful place, and drove about ten minutes to the ferry dock at Algiers.  We payed $5 for parking at the ferry,  $1.00 each for the ferry, and $.65 each for the trolley we took to the Old U. S, Mint. (This is the old fart fee.  If you are unfortunate enough not to be this fine, you will have to pay about double.) And the ferry is the BEST way to see old the Old New Orleans skyline.

New Orleans from the ferry

Sharing the Mississippi River with other ships

View of the Paddlewheeler, the Natchez

That strange green structure is part of the aquarium

A lovely church that we didn't have time to visit

It's going to be a beautiful day
We wanted to visit the new Jazz National Park, which is a concept park and currently  housed in the Old U.S. Mint. Hence the ferry ride. When we arrived, we found out about a tour and a concert and made plans to attend both. Then we spent a good part of the first hour enjoying the mint.

Some of the old scales used in producing coins

A huge coin press

This was used to make counterfeit fifty cent pieces

The piano in the Jazz Visitor Center

 Then we decided to just walk around the neighborhood and enjoy the marvelous architecture and ambience. Since all three of us are avid photographers, we can stay entertained for hours of this kind of activity. I'm sure we all had several hundred photos from our little walk.

Think this is featuring Catfish Collins

Every bit of metal work seemed to be custom made - we didn't see two alike

The streets satisfied my love of diversity and color

And everywhere the details demanded a closer look

And the houses were of many different styles

The street signs were built into the sidewalks

A tiny gem

The corbels were also custom to each house

And were endlessly interesting

I enjoyed the mule-drawn carriages whose drivers also were tour guides

This is purported to be Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop and is definitely
the oldest building used as a bar in the United States

An even more personal mode of transportation

There was lots of Christmas finery about

This was my favorite wreath - so New Orleans - and so to my taste

This was the corn hotel

I was enthralled by the corn fence

Just another street view

You can find your color here

Loved those posts

Oh yes, where more is always better and Mardi Gras colors are loved

We enjoyed the signage as well as the buildings  - didn't get a praline though

We got back in time to go on a ranger-led tour around the neighborhood to discuss the  jazz and food that abounds near the Jazz Visitor Center. Then we made it to the last half of a jazz performance which included some of the rangers.

This was the soloists for several of the songs

Something had happened and they didn't have their drummer.  But this little guy dropped in and played - think he was eight years old

We were too busy to eat until late in the afternoon.  We went to the original home of the Muffaletta, that most delicious of Italian sandwiches.  But the store was sold out of sandwiches, so we walked across the street to eat gumbo, and shrimp etouffee and a muffaletta.

Sherry with her muffaletta and me with shrimp etouffee. Photo by Steve

By this time, we were already halfway back to the ferry so  chose to walk through the riverside park and enjoy the boats, statues, and people.

Hurry, the ferry is coming

Last view of New Orleans

The hardest part about writing this blog was trying to limit the pictures when I wanted to show you just a few more. 

This was the last of the Christmas presents of time with Steve and Cheri, but I was be given another wonderful Christmas adventure.  Stay tuned.