A few days after making the previous post, Philo and I left Austin and made a nine-day journey to celebrate Christmas. In Illinois we spent three nights at my youngest sister’s house. My mom was there, too, and we enjoyed the novelty of waking up in a home where children live. My sister and her husband host a wonderful, large Christmas dinner every year, inviting their combined families, with guests from age 6 to 96. Even doing the dishes was a pleasure, with my sisters and niece singing together as they washed and dried the china.
When the workweek began, we moved to an extended stay motel, continuing to visit with friends and family for a few more days. [That’s the motel parking lot at top – it had an interesting assortment of northern evergreens like pines, arborvitae and yew that we seldom see here.]
It's a long way from Austin to Chicago, so four of the nine days were spent in the car - eleven or twelve hours on each day, totalling more than 2600 miles. On the way up we passed through north Texas, Oklahoma & Missouri, entering Illinois at St Louis. On the way back we traveled the length of Illinois, cut off a little part of Missouri, then drove through pouring rain across Arkansas to Texarkana where we turned toward Central Texas.
We’ve made this trip in other years, watching the car thermometer drop 5 º every few hours, sticking well below the freezing mark in the metro Chicago area. That didn’t happen this year! Austin was cooler than usual, and Illinois was warmer, so that our TX son reported a mere 8 degrees benefit to staying in Austin. I had no gloves in the car, intending to buy a pair along the way, but never needed them, and didn’t miss the forgotten boots.
In north Texas, we were stunned by the green fields on the side of IH35. We’ve never seen anything but browned plants there, whether we drove that stretch in winter’s cold, or summer’s heat. Maybe it's winter rye grass?
When we got home, we looked out our back door, and saw no tambourines or elephants, but the Camellia japonica ‘Pius X’ opening its first flowers. Although many people think that attempting to grow camellias in Austin isn't sensible, this plant hasn't been that demanding - just needing a little extra water, some organic, ironized seaweed, and a steady supply of coffee grounds.
The pecans were leafless, but the roses are green. There were a few paperwhite narcissus in bloom, looking pretty ratty from the rain that blessed Austin while we were gone.
We returned late on Saturday, and I’ve been trying to catch up with all the garden blog posts made since December 22nd. It seems that plum blossoms are opening in New Jersey, there’s very little frozen ground in the upper Midwest, and that LostRoses has cornered the entire snow supply this winter – isn't the weather normal anywhere?
Whether you’re too warm, too cold, too wet or too dry, Happy 2007 to all of you!