Monday, October 15, 2012

Nature and Stuff

Haime and Aggie adding to the "Halloween" decor
Thank goodness, fall is slowly making her way to our little piece of the world. For those in much cooler climes, you probably can't share our enthusiasm for cooler days (mid-80s), but those of us in south-central Texas are loving our fall weather.

When asked to name my favorite time of year, I am always torn between fall, (autumn for you purists), and spring. Here in Texas, where the winters are typically mild enough that we are never without some type of flowering plant, fall wins. However, during our time in California, they were pretty evenly matched. We lived in the high-desert region of S. Cali. so our summers were HOT and our winters--FRIGID! Fall was always a very welcomed reprieve to the 105+ summer days, (but it was a dry heat), and spring was like receiving a lost Christmas present in March/April. Aside from the temperature changes, I love the look, smell and feel of fall. The fall colors are warm and welcoming; the homey smells of soups, roasting meats and cinnamon make my weight-war much harder to fight but bring peace to my soul. And the brisk mornings and cooler evenings seem to speak of the coming of a much anticipated gift...
Niagara falls

Some species of pretty bush

Most of my associations, not counting the foods of fall, center around nature. A couple of years ago, mom and one of her friends, and my sister Karen, (the use of first initials has become a bit confusing for me so if you are included in one of my posts and don't want your name spelled out, please tell me what your preferred "blog name" is), and I went on a leaf-peeping expedition to New England and part of Canada. We were all awestruck, (I might have written "dumb-struck" except Karen was with us and she is never at a loss for words), at the beauty and magnificence of Nature's show. 

Equally pretty but obvious
different plant/tree
It is not just the flora of fall that grabs my attention. Animal life also seems to make appearances during this time of year in a "Hey, look at me too!" kind of fashion. Maybe its the cooling air and changing leaves that make us pay more attention to our little corner of the world but the insects are certainly doing their share of the attention-getting around our place. Haime and I live about halfway between two small towns in Texas. So, while we are not technically in a town or city, I don't think we qualify for the "living in the sticks" scenario either. At any rate, we always have various forms of "wildlife" around us. Nothing as cute as "Bambi" but we do have an occasional field mouse or squirrel or skunk. OK, our "wildlife" is more the insect type. For example, we always have wasps nests attached to some fixture of our house. Typically they are attached to the highest section of the eaves of the roof so we have adapted a policy of peaceful co-existence. This year, however, an industrious group of wasps has elected to build a nest under the front eave of my workshop. Since they don't seem to mind my electric saws, air compressor or hammers, we have kept a weary eye on each other but have continued our co-existence policy.
Given their growing numbers, I hope they pass the information along to the newcomers. If not, I could be charging down to the nearest pesticide aisle for some spray. 

When I was a kid, I remember seeing so many more species of insects and other bugs and critters than I see now. We didn't have "fire-ants" but I remember "big-red-ants" and "stinging-black ants" and of course "sugar ants" were always getting any hidden treat that we might have dropped or forgotten about. It seems that praying mantas were much more prevalent than they are now, as were tarantulas, "walking sticks" and of course horny toads, (No, I mean the real lizard kind, not the "bar fly" kind...GEEZ, stay with the topic people!) Well, I was at mom's house the other day and saw this guy on the wall by the front door as I was leaving...

For the "under 40" readers, this is a "walking stick" or,as Wikipedia explains:

"The Phasmatodea (sometimes called Phasmida or Phasmatoptera) are an order of insects, whose members are variously known as stick insects, walking sticks or stick-bugs, phasmids, ghost insects and leaf insects (generally the family Phylliidae). The ordinal name is derived from the Ancient Greek φάσμα phasma, meaning an apparition or phantom, and refers to the resemblance of many species to sticks or leaves. Their natural camouflage can make them extremely difficult to spot. Phasmatodea can be found all over the world in warmer zones, especially the tropics and subtropics."

Anyway, I'd guess its been at least 35 years since I've see one of these critters and seeing it last week at mom's house was a lot like turning back the clock to part of my nearly forgotten youth. Yep, another reason I love fall is that the sights, smells, feels and sounds take me back and help me remember so much of the richness of my youth that has helped to shape me into the person I am and has allowed me to enjoy myself as an adult. Thanks mom and dad.

Until next time,

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