Rain, rain….rat snake!

Raining her in the Lowcountry.  Like, really raining!  The first night there was thunder that shook the house, flashes of lightning to often, large, and close they lit up the house, and even a heavy, if short, hail storm.  We got up at 5am to the street flooded over a foot deep from one side to the other.

The storm kept me up all night…the boys woke up and peered outside and said, “it rained?”  Sigh.  Boys.

Because the water is always deepest right at the end of our driveway the boys came and went on their bikes from the second drive at the end of the yard (actually it is a glorified patch of gravel, sand, and leaves)  It was there they encountered the second of our much loved reptilian residents….our black rat snake.

Gorgeous! Right?  I love that we have so many kinds of reptiles here…and a fine assortment of amphibians as well, but that is a topic for another day.

We have anoles, both our native Carolina (green) anole

  but also the introduced Brown anole

We have Fence Lizards, the only spiny lizards native here  species photo

And of course an abundance of snakes, turtles, tortoises, alligators…the list goes on and on.  It is a great place to raise kids…so much to explore, so many amazing animals to appreciate and love and protect.

I was tickled and delighted the boys came up to the house thrilled about finding the big rat snake out in the rain, making his leisurely way up the magnolia tree, where the thick leaves will provide some protection from the storms.

Looking forward to seeing him again one lazy afternoon, basking in the morning sun.

Friday Fun and fantasies

Another gorgeous Lowcountry Friday.  Sunshine, perfect temperatures (at least for this summer loving girl), breezes off the ocean, and so many flowers in bloom it is hard to pin down a single fragrance to love the most.

The frogs are in full throat.  The anoles are courting madly.  And the big snake that likes to frequent the back porch is just huge this year.

Have I told ya’ll about the snake?  Big one, as big around as the three year old’s wrist, loooong (as in when the back is twined around the limbs of the bush beside the door, the front end is already curled inside and down along the leg of the desk inside the door), so probably about 4′, and totally gorgeous.  When we saw it coming inside the first time this spring we were afraid the kids slamming through the door might hurt the snake…so we slipped it’s tail off the branches and let it slide on into the porch and out of sight.  Next time I saw it, it was headed out of the porch under the door… I happened to open the door and there it was.  So I knelt down and gently caressed it’s back and down it’s tail.  It paused, raised it’s head and looked back at me for a long time as I continued to stroke it.  I told it what a lovely animal it was.  Then it sort of ‘shrugged’ (if snakes had shoulders, lol) and slipped through my hands and went about it’s business.  Now when it sees me, it doesn’t slither away but waits to see if I am going to stop to pet it or not.  I think we have an understanding.

I also think it is a female…and quite possibly gravid, based on just how heavy it has gotten.  Won’t that be exciting?  Lots of little snakelings racing about the yard?  😀

Image result for how long do garter snakes get

now for the fantasy part… the lovely reptile reminded me of my current wip… and the drachen that live in that world.  Not ‘dragons’ in the sense we, especially in the West, think of them but actual reptiles and coming in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, and habitats …as most species do.  Some have no legs, some aquatic, ones with wings have only two as the forelegs have become wings (no six-legged reptiles here 😉   Nor do they spit fire, although they can be fearsome creatures…particularly some of the larger ones…they are also intelligent and fiercely loyal.

I rather like this one, although the one I am most partial to in my story has ram-type horns (as some dinosaurs did) dragon wings defense - Google 検索:

What do you think?  Would you like to share your world with the drachen?

 

Spring…Sprung…Sprang?

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Lilacs see to have sprung into bloom… gracing gardens with their perfume and their beauty.

  Dogwood blossoms are everywhere. 

From the trees sprang a myriad of sounds and critters.  Chirruping squirrels, chasing one another in the thrill of spring’s ecstasy.  Tree frogs…completing the chorus with croaks, trills, bleats, and grunts. At night it can sound like a fleet of fire trucks descending on the neighborhood. The anoles don’t have a lot to say as they leap and slither about the limbs or run along the morning glory shrouded fence.  Skinks slither under the raised garden beds, hide in the damp shade beneath the kids’ sand/water table.

Already broadhead skink females are hidden in my woodpile, guarding and tending their clutches of tiny white eggs.

species photo (not  my picture…but I seldom get the females to stand still for me, lol)

The males, with their big red heads are much more imposing than their ladies and less skittish. They love it up in the big live oaks.

species photo

Spring is here in the Lowcountry.  It couldn’t have sprung up at a better time.

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Changes marking time

Some things here at the old house in on the island don’t change a lot … the live oak trees, the spanish moss, the way the sandy soil of the yard sinks underfoot.

Other things seem to be in perpetual flux.  The sounds of traffic on the road a few blocks away. The scents that whisper on the incoming breezes…right now, sweet with jasmine and wisteria…or sometimes earthy and salty with the scent of the marshlands.

The changes I mark most  are the ones whose change reminds me that, over the span of time, nothing changes so very much.  Constant changes.  Like the ocean tides. The great horned owls in the hollow of the live oak…mating, brooding, raising their young…and moving on until next time. The anole coming out with the warmth of spring…big dominant males puffing their throats to warn off the small, slender teenagers with their cocky attitudes, and the coy  females who in the end, really make all the decisions.

Image result for male anoles fighting

Frogs and toads are laying their eggs, and soon that too will signal change as they become tadpoles and tadpoles become frogs/toads and the damps areas of my yard come alive with song.

The pear tree has blossomed already.  There will be fruit before long.  I await the promise of the fig I have so carefully nurtured through all these winters and this spring’s random frosts far too late in the year…. without someone to cover and protect it, there would be no sweet fruit this year.  No promise of tiny baby fig trees to grow and continue into the future.

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Changes that serve as reminders that it is my privilege and my duty to protect this fragile environment around me.  I don’t grow exotic plants.  I nurture the ones nature placed here…and the ones generations past left behind.  Like the ancient azaleas lining the yard and standing in odd circles about the yard where once… decades ago, they surrounded some long ago tree….now lost to the changes of time and the vagaries of weather.  Yet the azaleas remain, reminding us of time past…and changes yet to come.

Immutable change…as constant and unpredictable as my ocean.

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Finding Beauty

I am, by my very nature, someone who seeks ‘connection’ in the world around me. I revel in time spent swinging in the hammock swing under the ancient live oak in my backyard.  Staring at the leaves, noting how much the spanish moss has grown since I first ‘introduced’ it to the oak tree five years ago, listening to the vast array of bird songs.

I thrive on walks on the beach, the feel of warm sand under my bare feet, the scent of the ocean, unexpected treasures to be gathered, or moments of wonderment in the sea and coastal critters we share these beaches and tidal marshes with.

https://passyingbyphoto.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/531a9778.jpg?w=474&h=379  Endangered Wood storks have returned to the coast after a long absence.

And the easily missed, once common and now making a slow comeback, Sea-beach amaranth can be found if you know what you are looking for…and are open to the tiny humble details to be found in nature.

Today I didn’t go anywhere unusual. I puttered about the house and yard. As I was clearing small downed branches from the week’s storms I spotted this lovely hiding near the bushes.  An Island glass lizard, I see them every once in awhile about the yard and love seeing the tiny babies when they hatch in the summer.

Always something beautiful to see here.  The white azaleas are in bloom in the yard, saved by their later bloom time from the late season frost which decimated most of our early bloomers.  The camellias are still heavy in flowers and the wisteria has joined in.  By the time the magnolia blooms, it will be swathed in soft purple wisteria blossoms.

Everyday miracles.  Every day…wonder.

 

 

 

April foolishness

A gorgeous day in the Lowcountry…mid 80s, clear blue skies and bright sunshine. Wisteria is coming back from the frosts that killed its first flush a couple of weeks ago, camellias and azaleas are offering a scant but determined final bloom and all around my neighborhood there are pinks, reds, corals, and soft purples rejoicing in Spring’s renewal. We have all the windows open every day and night and the fresh air is such a joy after the claustrophobic chill of winter.

The dogs spend a lot more time outdoors.  I spend more free time at the first wave of farm markets.  Last week’s excitement was over asparagus.  This week I am giddy over the prospect of first crop green (spring) garlic (as farmers thin their fields) and sugar snap peas.

Spring’s bounty in Asparagus, leek, and green garlic soup

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The bluebirds are nesting in the backyard. I love watching them skim across the open flight path between the azaleas on one side, the shrubbery on the other, over the ancient wisteria to their little houses along the back fence.  As we are contemplating the possibility of moving from this lovely old house to a smaller place the one thing I should truly miss the most is this yard.  Most people miss their homes…apparently for me home is the outdoors, not the in.

Which means I probably should not be surprised at little environmental themes that seem to be continually popping up in my writing. Who knew dragons had such an important environmental niche to fill?  (okay, so that doesn’t really surprise me as they would be an apex predator and as such a linchpen in their cycle…. I just hadn’t really given it much consideration till they showed up)  Glad they did.

 

Intertidal Magic

My friend, Melodye Shore, is quite the Renaissance woman… a gifted writer, an amazing photographer, a friend to bees, hummingbird ‘whisperer’, and now a budding expert on the intertidal zone, tidal pools and their amazing inhabitants.

So imagine my delight tonight when, in my usual eclectic way, I was perusing all the weird and widely divergent things that amaze and delight me…and here was this fascinating article on a critter from her neck of the woods… the lovely Lined Shore Crab.

http://awesomeocean.com/2016/12/28/meet-dr-jekyll-mr-hyde-intertidal-zone/

Shore Crab

Immediately I thought of Melodye…and how magical such small places as our tidal pools are…on her western shore or here on the shores of the Lowcountry, or in other countries around this tiny blue world of ours.  So much precious life.  So much we don’t yet understand.  So much magic to be lost if we don’t protect it fiercely.

I vote for magic.  The more we can find and share… the richer our world….and our lives….become.