Blue Ridge Parkway grandpa my backyard weather

Mountain Dreaming

I was cruising around the backyard yesterday after work, mowing with the Deere and thinking about how unlike a normal early June evening it felt. The temperature was hovering around the 90 degree mark and the heat index was even higher, so naturally my mind wandered up on the mountains…Daydream style as I went round and round.

I see that Ray is calling for a warm summer day in Valle Crucis. The seventies seem a little warm for this early, but I really don’t have a lot of mountain weather experience to go on. Seems nice and cool to me for the heat of the day…I keep telling my wife that no matter what happens with global warming/climate change, it’s gotta be more comfortable up on the Blue Ridge. Besides, when it’s too hot to do anything but sit in a rocker on the porch, at least you have a view of something outside the yard around the house…

I can remember summers on the porch at my grandparent’s ranch house in south Texas…Way down toward the Rio Grande, sitting high and dry between the Frio and the Nueces River in McMullen County. It was hot and dry but with a breeze most of the day off the Gulf of Mexico over a hundred miles away. Staring off into the distance…Watching the clouds winging north. The buzzards coasting along looking for dinner. An occasional roadrunner sitting in the mesquite across the drive with a collared lizard hanging from it’s beak…Watching and waiting for the afternoon heat to break while my grandfather enjoyed his daily siesta. It wasn’t a habit a teenage boy could acquire, napping after lunch.

That’s the way the weather here is feeling these days…Hot and dry…The grass I was mowing was almost like straw already this year. We don’t normally see weather like this for a couple of more months. All of the rains in the last few months have passed by to the north. Even the rains that get close falter before they fall on this dry ground we call home…Dry, dusty dry.

Today is the second anniversary of my Photoblog. Two years ago today I started posting photos with a shot I am still proud of taken at the Brinegar Cabin on the blue Ridge Parkway…I’ll bet the water from the spring is still cool at this time of the year…

my backyard nature writing_of_place


Have you ever watched a Bluejay eat an acorn? Around my home in Texas we have Bluejays year round. Actually, we have more Bluejays in winter than in summer but that’s neither here nor there. The Bluejays in my yard tend to eat acorns they find on the ground. Watching them find an acorn to try is fun but the amusing part is the way they approach opening the shell of the acorn…After selecting the best subject for his attention the discriminating Bluejay takes his selection and flies to a comfortable tree limb out of harms way. Once settled on the chosen base of operations the Bluejay proceeds to pound the poor unsuspecting acorn into submission. Once the hard nut has cracked from the pounding, the hardworking Bluejay is able to enjoy the fruit of his labor.

Then the process is repeated…By a multitude of birds on succeeding days. I have never noticed if the supply of acorns runs out or not, but I suspect there are acorns as long as the birds wish to search for them. I would imagine some of the nuts are from the stash the squirrels hide in the yard all fall and winter long.

As I alluded above, at this time of the year, the Bluejays visit us individually. During the winter months they arrive in the yard in great flocks of upwards of half a hundred or more. They appear to rotate through the yard on a regular feeding circuit they share with the Robins that overwinter here as well. Between the two species, they add a touch of color to an otherwise drab vista out my kitchen window.

coffee_muses HDR my backyard nature weather

First Friday of NCMD Y2

I stood out in the backyard last evening and watched the weather light show as the severe thunderstorms moved across Houston to the north of here. Lightning rolled through the clouds over two thirds of the sky as the mockingbirds sang in the background. We were far enough away that the thunder didn’t really reach us…just the light. Oh, occasionally you’d hear a low rumble from off in the distance, but there nothing coming through to match the grandeur of the lights…Sometime later in the night we must have finally received some of the rain that was in the storms since the back porch is wet this morning, but our rain didn’t come with a percussion section like the rains to the north.

With a chance of rain forecast for the entire day today the prognosticators seem to thing the temperatures here will manage to stay below those in Boone and Floyd. I stay amazed at this weather year. I went out on Wednesday evening and was amazed at the relative cool as I walked along the bayou behind the house. As I did the suburban grassy thing of riding in circles on a large lawn tractor last weekend I cut my trail along the bayou, so the walk isn’t the obstacle course of reaching spiked canes of rose and dewberry. Also, since the grass is short for a double mower width, you don’t have to pay quite as much attention watching out for snakes. I wil be the first to admit though that in the decade and a half we have been here I’ve only seen two or three snakes on my walks through the woods and fields here.

The one thing I did have on that walk was my first encounter with a “wild” hummingbird. By wild I mean not near a feeder or any other human sort of habitation. Since I didn’t take my binoculars I am not sure of the species as the little thing stayed a good 30 feet or more away the whole time I observed it. It flitted around for a good five minutes checking out the tops of last years dead weed stems.

Bald Cypress in fog out in backyard this week.