Houston was where people moved for a low cost of living and great jobs, but that was all it had to recommend it, they said. Houston was hot. Humid. Full of mosquitoes. They'd give you diseases like St. Louis encephalitis. Howard Hughes famously said of Houston, "the whole place is just pestilential swamp" and he didn't even live long enough to really see invasive fire ants hit their peak, let alone crazy Rasberry ants. "Stay indoors," many people said. "Work hard and then use your savings to fly to a better place if you want to go outside."
For a number of years, I drank that Kool-Aid. But then as I got older and wiser, I realized that the people who deferred to Howard Hughes's conclusion had neglected to qualify his quote by noting that he had OCD. I also learned that, unless we're at the absolute peak of a mosquito hatch-out (which only happens a few times a year), it's simply worth going outside. Here are a few pics of what I'd be missing these days if I didn't at least step out into my own back yard.
|Might as well put the most outrageous flower first: Hibiscus.|
|The two bell peppers I added to last night's spaghetti sauce. We call this intense color "radioactive green", except it's fully natural, the color that properly-grown bell peppers are supposed to exhibit (the photo is not color-enhanced).|
|Yet another anole.|
|I forget the name of this stuff, but it makes a really cool container plant.|
|Mint from the herb garden. Them's good eatin'.|
|Bark shedding from a crape myrtle (unmurdered).|
|"Lizard porn!" my teenager snorted and guffawed when she saw this photo. This is why we have so many anoles in our garden.|
|Bat-faced cuphea, in abstractia, sort of.|
|Sweet potato vine in recent rain.|
|Parent and child cuddled up next to a garden hose on a stacked-stone landscaping wall.|
|Newly-planted collards with yesterday morning's dew. Local grocery stores be damned.|