From drought to deluge – when it rains, it pours. 4 1/2″ at the chez so far. I’m thankful for the rain. It should save some of our trees and shrubs. And I’m enjoying the 30 degree drop in temps that the cold front ushered in. The transition from summer to fall in Central Texas turns on a dime.
We baked in the sun while seeking refuge at the lake from the 100 degree temps this weekend. Julie joined us on Saturday afternoon. We stayed the night. We floated, kayaked, SUP-ed, and played on the lake with Marty, Sue, and some of the other sailors with boats nearby. I was tuckered out by the time we got home Sunday night. That’s hard work.
Sunday morning in the slip…
I toted my camera and tripod to an overlook above Lake Travis last night to try to get a better photo of the Comet NEOWISE. Again, I was not able to spy it by eye or binoculars, but I did get some more underwhelming long exposure shots of it. It is getting very dim. I took exposures ranging from 10 seconds to about 1 minute. Still no stunning captures. No matter, I stayed out there for over 2 hours, enjoying the views.
This is a view about 30 minutes after sunset, with Sometimes Island in the foreground. The lake level is 668′. Windy Point juts in from the right; the Austin Yacht Club on the left shore beyond that; and you can even see Starnes Island way back there, if you look closely.
My second attempt at capturing NEOWISE. Sadly, these are the best shots of the night.
A 10-second exposure, about an hour after sunset; very faint:
A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:
And just because… a 10-second exposure of the big dipper, on the left, pointing towards the North Star on the right side of the shot:
Monte and I spent a couple nights at anchor on the lake this week. We chose to avoid the wake-heavy holiday weekend. It was hazy, I guess from the Saharan dust remnants in the air. But it was lovely. Keeto enjoyed it, too. We’ve launched the kayak for the summer, so I have resumed my treasure-hunt-paddling around the coves. I was rewarded yesterday with this long lost 11 lb. Lewmar claw anchor and stainless steel tackle that someone had to cut loose at some point months ago when the lake was much higher.
And we were rewarded again with this treasure at sunset last night.
I hope you enjoy a fun and safe 4th of July!
Today’s morning sun illuminates the blooms on my Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) also known as Red Bird of Paradise. Whichever, it’s gorgeous.
Monte completed the install of our new head on Nirvana this week! The work was interrupted by this shelter-in-place for a couple of months. But he made several trips this week and declared it done yesterday.
So today we went to the lake and took her out. We anchored and jumped in and floated in the lake for the first time this year. Water temps were still a tad chilly at 79 degrees F, but we sucked it up.
My pollinator garden is in its 4th or 5th year, and though it takes work to keep ahead of all the weeds and Liveoak seedlings that grow as well as the perennial flowers in this patch, I truly enjoy it. The purple coneflower, which I originally grew from seed, is back for the third year, and it makes me so happy to see all its blooms.
I noticed a new volunteer perennial in my pollinator patch a few months ago. It stayed green and alive through our mild winter. I didn’t know what it was. A few weeks ago it started blooming and is thriving amongst the returning salvia, sage, purple coneflower, vinca, and scabiosa. I finally took a good look and did some research and was tickled purple to find out that they are winecups (Callirhoe involucrata)! I love winecups but find them very elusive in the sprawling fields of Central Texas wildflowers. I’m glad they volunteered here in my garden.
The one small plant has exploded with 3 or so long branches that are creeping out through the garden, low to the ground. The blooms roll up every night and reopen in the morning. 🙂 The bees enjoy them, too.
We joined in the Becker Vineyards virtual wine tasting last night of their 2018 Cabernet-Syrah Reserve. It sure went well with pizza!
This Common Buckeye moth paused just long enough for me to snap a picture.
I ventured out to get my first real birding of the year in. Oh, I’m always looking for birds, but “real birding” means that I bring my binoculars and my camera. The Golden-cheeked warbler nests exclusively in Central Texas, and there are preserves that are closed to the general public during their breeding season of Feb-July, during which they are only accessible to those with permits. Welllllll. I have had a permit for several years and took advantage of it today to get away from people and find me some birdies.
I was treated to my first of season golden-cheeked warbler:
A very vocal, but elusive white-eyed vireo. I caught him here mid-song:
And one of many blue-grey gnatcatchers. They are so tiny, vocal, and always moving! This one stopped long enough for me to get a blurry picture:
Nice. Very nice. 🙂
My cedar sage (salvia roemeriana) is starting to bloom in the yard. It is one of my favorite native perennials. It likes the shade. And I love its shade of red.
My favorite flowering tree is the Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis). Their blooms are fleeting but gorgeous, some of the first of the year. This bee likes them, too.
The societal and financial market upheaval caused by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is mounting at a feverish pitch (pardon the pun). It is incredible to watch it unfold.
To get away from it, I retreated to the outdoors for some much-needed weeding and gardening. About 3 years ago I started a small bed in the backyard intended for butterflies, bees, and birds. Yesterday, I rummaged through it a square foot at a time, removing unwanted weeds, leaving the perennials that I want to see bloom again. The bed is mostly sage, salvia, purple coneflower, scabiosa, and a few volunteers that I will have to wait a bit to correctly identify. It doesn’t look like much today, but soon it will be filled again with blooms and flying fauna.