Asher

I rarely post about personal issues, but last week, my very elderly dog, Asher, died.  He lived a good dog life; he was 17 years old, with 16 of those years as a part of our family.  Asher’s been old for a long time.  At the beginning of summer 2017, I thought he wouldn’t survive the summer.  Not only did he survive, but he lived to see autumn, winter, and spring, and lumbered through this summer.  Asher had a strong–and big–heart, but he’d been declining and required a great deal of care.  We were privileged to provide that care, but on Friday two weeks ago, he could no longer stand and his appetite waned.

He crumbled.  Asher weakened beyond our ability help and it was time to ease his end.

Asher was a favorite in the neighborhood.  On his last day, a steady stream of neighbors stopped by to say goodbye and to pet his soft head.  Since his death, texts, emails, phone calls have delivered condolences.

His life was worthy not only because of who he was–gentle natured and pure in ability to love, and as a younger dog, goofy in demeanor, but also because of his role as an important tether in our family.  My daughter and I found him in 2002 when we were volunteers at our local shelter, where, every Sunday, we walked and played with abandoned dogs.  Shoshana  loved animals and science, and wanted to become a veterinarian.

Shoshana died in 2006, suddenly and of natural causes, leaving our family forever altered.

We survived: parents who buried a child and the younger brother who grew up alone.

But, we had Asher.  Asher was a balm for our broken hearts.  A sensitive soul, he seemingly understood our pain, sitting quietly to keep us company when need be.  Or, when the mood struck, ready to play and unleash his silly side–and silly was a big part of Asher.

Always, he lightened our load.  He’s the last of our pets who knew Shoshana and experienced our intact family.

The vet and vet tech came to our house.  Both young women were kind and compassionate.  They listened to us, and talked to and petted Asher.

His death was peaceful.

I roll my eyes at references to crossing over the rainbow bridge and I detest bad pet poetry, but I like this Irving Townsend quote:

We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle; easily and often breached.  Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way.  We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan. 

 

Asher.  His name is Hebrew for “happy” and our lovely–and deeply loved–friend was aptly named, both in who he was, and what he gifted.

Winged, and Other Things: Wildlife Wednesday, September 2018

Just a quick howdy do!  for September’s Wildlife Wednesday, recapping a few flitting winged things from this past month.  August is typically hot and quiet, but the garden and its inhabitants remain full of energy and life, even when the gardener drags.

For this whole growing season, I haven’t snagged one good photo of my favorite native bee, the Horsefly-like Carpenter beeXylocopa  tabaniformis.

Bee butt-view on a Turk’s cap bloom.

There are many of these busily buzzing, nectar-stealing carpenter bees in my garden, but this is the best shot I’ve managed this year.  I’m either too slow with the click, or choose a ridiculously windy day to shoot, or am distracted and lose sight of my subject.  The bees keep their cool though, working the garden, laying eggs for the next generation, and taunting the gardener with their charm. There’s still plenty of time to work on attaining some decent photos before the days are significantly shortened and these bees bed down for winter.  Stay tuned!

I’m continuing to enjoy the Turk’s cap visits of several Southern Carpenter beesXylocopa micans.

Like the Horsefly-like carpenter bees, the Southern Carpenter bees nectar-steal and favor Turk’s caps blooms, though I have also seen them at the brilliantly blue, Majestic sage blooms.

These bees are so large, they are easy to spot in the garden, even from a distance.

 

The big butterflies are now more common, as is typical for the late summer.  This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, nectared at the dramatic flowers on one of my Mexican Orchid trees, which is a favorite of a variety of bees and butterflies.

 

It took me some time perusing Austin area iNaturalist photos to identify this emerging moth as a Virginia creeper SphinxDarapsa myron.

Top-view,

…and the underside.

I love his/her little face and tiny chocolate-drop eyes.  Some bird-delivered Virginia creeper (the host plant for this moth), growing in my back garden, was probably the food source for the moth in larval stage.  This adult emerged in late afternoon from a chrysalis situated on a branch of a Drummond’s ruellia.

 

The dragons and damsels zoom throughout my garden, but perch near the pond.  I think this is a female Dusky DancerArgia translata.  

The damsel was in nearly constant motion and I took the photo at a distance, so for identification purposes, the photo is not as clear as I’d like.   The Dusky Dancer is a common predator and widespread in Texas.  The purple eyes are a marked feature for this particular species, so I’m reasonably confident I got this right.

 

This Pipevine SwallowtailBattus philenor, has certainly seen better days.

I’m now growing pipevine plant and am enjoying more of these beauties as they float through the garden.

 

Early one morning I caught this fella nectaring on the salmon blooms of one of my Red Yucca plants.

This Leptoglossus phyllopus is one of the many leaf-footed bugs common in this region and they do fly.

 

No wings here, but the look on Mr. Green Anole suggests he’s weary of summer and ready for autumn.  Or, maybe I’m just anthropomorphizing.

Yeah, that’s it.

I love these little guys and gals and they’ll be around until our chill arrives, which is months away.

What’s in your garden as we wrap up summer?  Please share your critter happenings and don’t forget to leave a link to your post.  Happy wildlife gardening!

The Purpling

Days are noticeably shorter now in late August.  Darkness greets my morning alarm and birds are quiet until well after I’m up and about.  Nightfall appears earlier, much more than a mere few weeks ago.  Autumn is palpable, though certainly not with cooler temperatures, at least not here in Central Texas.  Our daily (today marked number 43) century-plus numbers are still in play, but seasonal change is afoot.

This cluster of beauty berries showcases the transformation from green to purple.  The bird poop on the leaves is extra decoration.

In the last couple of weeks, the American beautyberryCallicarpa americana, has slipped out of its summer wardrobe and donned its hooray for autumn swag.  Eye-candy for the gardener and nutritious fruits for birds, the green, clustered drupes, grown since June from the remains of dainty pink blooms, have morphed to brilliant, metallic purple berries.

Green fruits,

…to purple.

This particular shrub in my back garden is about 3 years old and finally exhibiting its graceful arching form.

Berries are cream-to-green, but purple-up over 7-10 days .  Triggered by the maturity of the drupe (and maybe light?), it’s a seasonal change I look forward to each hot August.

It gives me hope for the autumn to come.

Berries gather like bunches of party balloons along the branches of the shrub, the purple overwhelming the green, ready to pop in some lucky bird’s beak.

 

This beautyberry will grow larger, eventually filling the area of this small garden.

 

This beautyberry is the same age as the one above, but I transplanted it to a different spot in my front garden exactly one year ago.

Beautyberry is a good shade plant, though this one receives more sun than the back garden beautyberry. I’ve noticed that it’s grown more quickly, but has also required more water.  In fact, the slight droop of the leaves in this photo indicates a thirsty plant.  Since June, I’ve watered this shrub once per week, significantly more than the back garden beautyberry, which grows in shade.

In my garden, Blue Jays and Mockingbirds are the main consumers of these berries.  Some years, the beautyberry greedy birds descend and devour the berries just as they turn color; other years, the berries remain on the shrub well into winter, the birds obviously getting sustenance somewhere else.

And that’s fine with me.

I prefer those years when the birds let me enjoy the beauty of the berries, at least for a time.