October 20, 2017. An invitation we initiated in March has brought exactly what we hoped for – migrating Monarchs arrived this afternoon, four days after first blooms opened on the new blue mist bush. We brought this home from Rancho Lomitas after watching Rio Grande butterflies congregating, making clear their preferred party food. (Please don’t ask me the technical name. But do check out: http://www.rancholomitas.com/)
I stood in the midst of the flurry feeling invisible, a wallflower hanging around the buffet at an elite social event. But no complaints!
March 23, 2017. We recently returned to Rancho Lomitas in lower Texas near the Rio Grande border – an area with birds and plants that just don’t come further north. When there last fall, we took a photo of what we thought to be peyote growing along the roadside. To everyone’s surprise, the proprietors pointed out the distinctions between peyote and our picture of a star cactus – an endangered cactus that Rancho Lomitas is helping propagate in their nursery but had never seen growing natively on the ranch. Wow! This revelation came minutes before our departure, no time to revisit the star for more (better) pictures.
On this return trip, a high priority was finding that star cactus! Oh, did we look and look and look – walking slowly, eyes trained on roadside edge, up and down the stretch of road where the tiny star “had to be”. Well, maybe. Hours of looking yielded no star, but did prompt a poem. Afterward, a seasoned resident at Rancho Lomitas comforted us with the comment that rabbits do eat such (indeed the nursery samples are in wire cages) which leaves me eager to return again to photograph bunnies for an update to this collage. (Image note: fingers show a peyote the same size as the elusive star – star enlarged in center of collage – the two look alike to novice eyes.)
November 28, 2016. We escaped just before Thanksgiving to the Rio Grande Valley, to look for green jays – a bird that doesn’t come much further north than that southern tip of Texas. We’d never seen one! Binoculars and cameras in tow, off we went. We stayed at Rancho Lomitas (http://www.rancholomitas.com/) – a native plant nursery with RV spots tucked here and there. Thanks to a long-term RV resident who feeds the birds, green jays were ever-present if not exactly sitting still for portraits.
On a tour of the nursery, I learned a new word – ramadara – that immediately began tickling the poetic lobes of my brain. This image is a collage of three separate jay photos which gives a sense of the thorn scrub they inhabit and their gregarious nature.