Male Painted Bunting
Red, white and blue are Fourth of July colors. But for folks in the Texas Hill Country, July is the season of red, blue and neon green.
The first morning in our Hill Country house, June four years ago, I rose creaky from sleeping on the floor, wondering what life would be like in central Texas, so far from the Atlantic Ocean. Happy and anxious at once, knowing salt water would never spill into my house again, but dolphins and sea turtles would no longer be neighbors. Gain of safety, loss of magic.
I moved to Florida in 1987 for the magic. Left everyone I knew and loved so I could scuba dive without getting in an airplane. Miami was a city of creative chaos, where music, art, orchids and birds spilled into the streets. And I spent thousands of hours hovering weightless above coral reefs, living an alternate universe.
Outside my Texas bedroom window was sun-baked clay, rubble and weeds bounded by an Ashe Juniper thicket.
And then flashes of wild color fluttered among the weeds. Painted buntings, maybe the most beautiful species in the Americas. Eagerly sought and declining from cropland poisoning, paving North American habitat, and clear-cut/burning in Central America.
Female Painted Bunting
That first summer and every summer since, painted buntings have shopped our yard for bugs and brought their babies to our birdseed and baths.
A different kind of magic.
Copyright 2009-2010 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.