All Hat, No Petal

All hat, no cattle  is a contemporary phrase describing someone who’s showy, but lacking in substance. The saying is used to describe a person who talks big about a subject, but when pressed, can’t convey solid information or skills.   There’s some dispute about the origins of the axiom, with some suggesting that it’s an old Texas adage, and others mistakenly linking it to the 1978-1991 television program, Dallas.  The earliest verified notation of All hat, no cattle is in the March 1944 issue of Agricultural Leaders’ Digest 25, No. 3, with possible earlier references.

My twist on the pithy proverb is this:  all hat (sepal), no petal.  

The hat, in the form of the poppy’s sepals, is not quite doffed for the as-yet-unfurled petals.  It’s a flower, but a flower currently unable to deliver its goods–it’s a flower wanna be, with promises of produce, but lacking in freight.

 

Here, the sepals are gone, having drifted away with a puff of breeze or the pull of gravity; no doubt they rest nearby.

The petals are opening for business, the flower awaiting its pollinators.

 

But peering into the heart of this poppy, there is no phony, fake entity; pollen and nectar are in place, ready for action.

The insect work of pollination and resulting future bloom procreation, will continue.

Check out Anna’s Flutter and Hum and her wonderful Wednesday Vignette for garden, nature, and other musings.

Hidden

Not really hidden, the diminutive blooms of the Possumhaw Holly, Ilex decidua, must be looked for, found out, and paid attention to.  Tiny buds come first,

…before life-giving flowers open to a remarkable variety of insects.

There were few insects when I took this shot, as it’s been gloppy and drippy around here, but they’ll show up:  fluttering, crawling, consuming.

The blooms are not unseen for them.

I’m glad to join in today with Anna’s Flutter and Hum and her wonderful Wednesday Vignette.  Please pop over for garden, nature, and other musings.

 

Hoot-n-Annie

I’ve long thought that naming wildlife an unwise practice.  When I first installed a water fountain at my back patio, we purchased three “feeder” goldfish which the kids and I named.  The fish didn’t last long, as one of our dogs decided that sushi was something he enjoyed.  Once our pond was built and we had even more fish we could name–at first, koi, and later, some goldfish and gobs of gambusia (mosquito fish), I’ve steadfastly refused to name even one of the swimmers.  Herons, plain bad luck, as well as old age, all end the fish and I don’t want to lament their loss by name.

The same is true for my regular bird visitors.  I’m fond of the pairs of Carolina Chickadees and Wrens, and Black-crested Titmice, and many others, who I see in my garden.  I’m charmed when they bring their babies to visit and feed in late spring and summer, enjoying the this is how you survive lessons imparted by the excellent parents to their eager and darling offspring.  But I dare not name any one of them.  Ditto for the wintering warblers who daily flit in the garden from November through May.  I already miss them when they leave to wing northward for summer;  how much more would I regret their flying the garden nest if I called them Joe or Rufus or Abigail?

So why name the Eastern Screech-Owl couple who, it appears, are (perhaps?) in the process of choosing to raise a family in my garden?

In a word: weakness.  And, maybe a second word: affirmation.

Meet Hoot and Annie.  Hoot-n-Annie.

The male, Hoot, guarding the nest box.  He wasn’t interested in showing me his pretty face, but I can share his beautiful wing plumage pattern with you.

Annie, trying the nest box on for size. She was tolerant at my photo taking, but I didn’t bother her much–just enough to get this shot.

Here’s a look from our owl cam. What you’re looking at are her tail feathers–her head is looking out the hole.

There are several problems with the conferring of these names, the stupidity of  perceived control, notwithstanding.   Firstly, Eastern Screech owls don’t hoot, they trill (in varying forms), and they also make bill claps and low chuckling sounds.  Check out this link to Cornell Lab’s Eastern Screech-Owl sounds to understand what we’ve been hearing for a few weeks now and why “Hoot” is a goofy–and erroneous–name.  Secondly, the life of Screech-Owls is fraught with danger.  Of course, that’s true of all wildlife, thus the wisdom of not naming the wild critters in my garden.  We can provide the right habitat, both day and night, but we have little influence over their destiny.  Cars, bigger owls (there’s a Great Horned Owl pair in our neighborhood), and maybe, rat poison, are all hazards to Screech-Owls.  Also, Screech-Owls are risks to the smaller birds, toads, and insects in and near my garden.

And so it goes with the wildlife food web.

But I have hope and a sense of reassurance with this particular canoodling pair of owls.  It’s been a couple of years since we’ve enjoyed the privilege of intimately observing the shy, elusive night birds–more about that at another time. The previous owl pairs were always Mama Owl and Daddy Owl, and except for the last clutch of Screech-Owl fledglings, I never named the babies.  But the dearth of owl watching and learning in the last two years renders me sentimental about their recent presence in the garden. The strong bond between adults, their focused and shared care of chicks, and their important contribution to diversity of the wild community (of which my garden is a small part) is heartwarming and affirming.  Appreciation of the natural order continues, as (selfishly) does my own education and enjoyment.

If the Screechies move in and raise their family, a kind of avian hootenanny in celebration of life’s dance of diversity and songs of progress will be in place, at least for a specific time and type.

I’m glad to join in today with Anna’s Flutter and Hum and her wonderful Wednesday Vignette.  Please pop over for garden, nature, and other musings.