Skip to main content

My life in... flowers

Our time in Texas didn't get mentioned in my previous post.  North Texas does have trees, of course, but it's not big tree country.  It used to be prairie.  There is grass, and cacti, and flowers.  Even the cacti have flowers.


Transplanting myself from cool damp British woodlands to hot dry Texas prairies meant learning a whole new wildflower vocabulary.  Instead of Cowslips and Ragged Robin, there was Turk's Cap and Indian Blanket.  In the spring, you didn't go to take photos in the bluebell woods, but among fields of bluebonnets.

English bluebell woods

Texas bluebonnets

So much of the original prairie has gone now, that there is a strong movement towards preserving what is left, and planting native species.  We visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Centre in Austin, which is stunning - lovely buildings merging beautifully with the surrounding scenery.  And I had a go at cultivating my own patch of native flowers in the backyard.


Even when you don't think you're a nature expert, it is disconcerting to move to a place where all the flowers are unfamiliar.  

As a kid, I remember sitting on the school field making daisy chains and seeing how far we could shoot plaintain flowers.


Snapdragon flowers could be pinched to open and shut like little mouths, and of course my friends and I had several tries at making rose petal perfume, always resulting in a foul-smelling sludge.

All these small interactions build up a background level of familiarity, which is suddenly lost when you move to a different country.  The good thing is that even the most common plants and animals become interesting, because they are new.  We were enamoured by possums (regarded as a nuisance) and Graham was desperate to see a rattlesnake, which many Texans will kill if possible.

Then, when you move home, the familiar here seems exciting as well.  We went for a walk during our first summer back in the UK, and it felt like hiking through a jungle!  I had forgotten just how enthusiastically everything grows in the short summer season, fuelled by plenty of rain.

A British jungle!

I feel like I should be writing something more profound, but surely this is enough: Flowers are beautiful.  I'm so glad we live in a world with so many kinds of flowers.

Purple coneflower, Texas


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk: Lees to Derby

These final two Bonnie Prince Charlie walks were quite a contrast: the first across empty fields and along quiet roads; the second crossing from country into city as I walked into Derby. I started both walks at the Great Northern Greenway car park, just off Station Road in Mickleover.  Walk 1 In order to keep walking the Bonnie Prince Charlie way in the right direction, I first found my way back to Lees by an alternative route. The first section, along the cycle path, was well paved. After that it quickly got very muddy. At least it's a popular walk from Mickleover to Radbourne, so it was easy to find the path.  St Andrew's, Radbourne, is rather dominated by memorials. It looks as if the preacher would be hemmed in by tombs!      I liked this bench outside, with the text, "The thoughtful soul to solitude retires". Writing this, I only just realised it was a quote. Turns out it's from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam . The rest of the walk certainly provided solitude,

A Place at the Table: Spiritual Formation Book 12

"God has ordained in his great wisdom and goodness that eating, and especially eating in company, should be one of the most profound and pleasurable aspects of being human." Miranda Harris had been intending to write a book for years. She'd got as far as a folder full of notes when she died suddenly in a car accident in 2019. When her daughter, Jo Swinney, found the notes, she decided to bring her mum's dream to fruition. A Place at the Table was the result. I thought this was going to be a nice friendly book about having people over for dinner. In one sense it is, but it's pretty hard-hitting as well. Miranda and her husband Peter co-founded the environmental charity A Rocha, so the book doesn't shy away from considering the environmental aspects of what we eat and how we live. They also travelled widely and encountered hunger at close quarters; the tension between seeing such poverty and believing in a generous God comes out clearly in A Place at the Table.

Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk: Longford to Lees and BONUS walk

The walk from Longford to Lees didn't include any churches. That was frankly not on. So I found an extra walk which included not one, not two, but three churches. Also it was shorter, because I didn't have time to fit in a longer walk that week. The next week I managed the churchless section of the Bonnie Prince Charlie Walk. It was a little more adventurous than I expected! Walk 1 (Three Churches) For this route I followed the directions given by Dave Welford on his very useful blog . As soon as I parked up by Sutton-on-the-Hill church, I heard the bleating of lambs. Spring must be coming. number 11 mum and baby   I crossed a field full of numbered lambs and ewes and came out in the middle of Sutton village. Turning left by the village preschool, I picked up another footpath to take me across the fields to Dalbury. A ruined cottage stood crumbling lonesomely - the Gamekeeper's Cottage, apparently.  I was amused by Dave Welford's comments about the miserable farmer who