Thank you, Mother Nature for making your presence known here in South Central Texas with some beautiful fall sights. We may not have breathtaking views of autumn leaves, but for those of us fortunate enough to live close to the land, fall is all around us.

Welcome back, Schoolhouse Lilies.

Schoolhouse Lilies may have earned their name by returning each fall to the sites of former schoolyards and long abandoned home sites. Also called Oxblood Lilies, they are truly a gardener’s friend. Once these hardy heirloom perennial bulbs take root, they need no special care.

In fact, I forget where I’ve planted clumps in the yard because when the foliage dies back, they are hidden. What a delight it is in late September to look out and see their radiant faces once more.

Resembling tiny amaryllis, Schoolhouse Lilies naturalize. When bulbs appear to elbow their way above the soil, it’s time to pick them up and replant them in a new location. Better yet, I think I’ll pass some along to a friend.     

Persimmons please!

When the persimmons on our tree turn golden, they are not yet ripe. However, they are worth watching because birds will be keeping an eye on them, too.

I’ve learned the hard way to pick my persimmons when they are still firm to the touch. Then I sit back and watch for their skins to sag. When they appear wizened, you might think they are rotting but far from it. That’s the stage when the skin tastes like crystalized sugar and a persimmon’s deep orange fruit is as sweet as nectar.

Be warned, however. Novices may attempt to eat a persimmon before it’s ripe at their own peril. Bitter, astringent and nasty are some of the negative reviews they’ve received.

Poor misunderstood persimmons!

KR Bluestem Grass teams up with fall light to create a striking display.

Texas summers can be long and hot here, and the one we’ve just lived through was long, hot and very dry. Despite these challenges, we are rewarded with warm, rich light in the morning and evening in the fall.

Also, KR Bluestem Grass, like the hardy Schoolhouse Lilies, makes a command appearance. One day it’s nowhere to be seen and the next, it’s drifting back and forth in the breeze on the hillsides of our farm. We can count on this grasses’ faithful return despite the summer’s heat and drought.

Hello, handsome little man.

In other parts of the U.S. and Canada, many farmers and ranchers are selling their calves in preparation for winter. However, we are just beginning to welcome our 2022 calf crop. With any luck, the little ones will be a good size by the time the first Northers begin dipping into our region. It’s always good to see them grow like crazy, thriving during our typically moderate winters.

Mr. Spider is busy.

This spider didn’t come from the $1 store wrapped in plastic. I found him this morning hard at work building a web on the outside of our bathroom window. He’s a big guy out there toiling away during the fall in Central Texas!

I don’t know where he’s been all summer, but Mr. Spider is another sign of fall. Before long, when I take my morning walks, I’ll be treated to delicate spider-crochet suspended on barbed wire fences along the way. That said, looking at Mr. Spider through the glass is as close as I care to get.

Happy Halloween!  

Our porch is a hummingbird haven.

We’ve had more hummingbird visitors this year than ever before as they plotted their migration south for the winter. For a few weeks, dozens of the tiny birds guzzled four to six cups of sugar water a day from our red feeders. That was in addition to dining on the nectar from all the blooming plants in the yard.

However, Mother Nature must have blown the whistle around Sept. 22, the fall equinox, because the majority of our tiny guests flew away without saying goodbye. Several hummingbirds spent the entire summer here, so we are curious to see if they leave, too. Perhaps living at our place is so pleasant for these particular hummingbirds that they see no reason to migrate.

As long as they stay, I’ll faithfully replenish sugar water in at least one hummingbird feeder.

*  *  *

These sights and thoughts comprise an overview of our South Central Texas fall spectacular! Thank you, Mother Nature. Now, readers, it’s your turn. What’s Mother Nature offering you these days?

More of my stories featuring Mother Nature’s inspiration:

Elaine Thomas
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