Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Jaded Texan.

After spending my whole life here, I've grown pretty fond of my state. Even though I've travelled around a bit, there's no place I'd rather live (though Northern Ireland or Hawaii run a close second). Sure, us Texans get stereotyped. Some of those are valid. Others are annoying (lookin' atchu, Geico commercial).

Biologically, we're a diverse state with a whopping 12 ecoregions, in which there are many distinct sub-regions. You can go to the mountains, the beach, the forest(s), the hill country, or the desert--just not all in the same day. We've got lots of endemic species of plants and animals. Como se dice 'biologist's dream'?

I grew up in a really rural area, on a commercial cattle ranch. This past weekend a friend from the Dallas area came to visit and 'experience the country' (her words, not mine). I always feel like a hayseed whenever she's around. Hayseed may be my Granddad's vocabulary...

Country bumpkin, maybe?

Anyway, we loaded up in the truck and headed out, me thinking all the while how she was going to be bored stiff for the next three hours. Granted, she's a biology nerd too, but what can I show her that's 'country?'

A lot, apparently.

Seeing her joy at the landscape and wildlife made me realize (again) how freaking lucky I was to grow up where and how I did. Lucky that I could see something like this every day. My friend loved it all, and her enthusiasm was madly contagious. Not many people get to climb to the top of this...

Yucca aloifolia, more commonly known as Spanish Dagger. In some places
it's common to fry/cook and eat the blossoms. No idea as to the taste but,
until I get really hungry, I'll pass.

and see for miles, like this...

My dad found this several years ago, while he was riding horseback and
looking for some missing cattle. This picture doesn't even
come close to doing it justice.

Or quite literally stumble upon natural wonders like this.

I believe this is some kind of Ferocactus, but maybe it's Echinocactus texensis.
  (If that's the case, the common name is Horse Crippler...pretty flowers, serious name.)

Or get pictures like this, which, even though I'm not much into plant biology, are beautiful to me.
I'm not sure what kind of flower this is, but I've got a date with a botanist later this
week to find out. I've never seen this before.

What good would pictures of Texas wildflowers be without some bluebonnets?
Hello, Lupinus texensis, good to seeya. 
Reminders to stop and smell the flowers are always a good thing.

As always, if you like the pictures, please feel free to share them--linkage back to this blog much appreciated!

Currently listening to Nottingham Burns--Marc Streitenfeld

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