Texas has been facing two separate threats to our trees.  The pine bark beetle and drought.  As a result, we had a third threat, fire, which destroyed an unbelievable amount of acreage.  

Tomorrow, a local tree service is coming to my house to take down the first of 4 loblolly pines we lost to the pine beetles and drought.  These trees were on the property when my family moved in in June, 1957.  The one that's coming down tomorrow was the smallest of the 4.  That first summer, I climbed that tree, with my grandfather's help, and I fell off the lowest limb, which was probably about 6' off the ground.  I landed on my back.

"DeeDee, DeeDee, I think I'm dead!"  I cried.

"I don't think so, honey.  You just knocked the wind out  of yourself."

"How do you know?"

"You're talking.  Can't talk if you're dead."  In September, my grandfather died.  He was wrong though.  He still talks to me.  

Every time I put my hands in the dirt, I hear him.  He was a gardener, and the reason I love gerbera daisies,  redbud trees,  and digging in the dirt.  I'm amazed at how much he passed to me during the 4.5 years we both occupied this planet.

He also taught me to recognize whipporwills,  bob white quail, mourning doves....by sight and sound.  When I joined the Brownies, my bird watching badge was the first one I got.  I walked into the backyard the other day and scared up a covey of doves.It reminded me of what this neighborhood was like when we moved in -- acres of pine forests in which we played and cycled (when the dirt was hard).  We got our eggs and milk from guys who lived within a few blocks.  The farmer next door to my elementary school had tomatoes and corn and other crops, sold from a table in front of his house.  A rooster woke us in the morning, his cry drifting in through our open windows. from the coop at the north end of my block.

Today, my husband went to IKEA to pick up the 6 loblolly pines I reserved in their Trees for Houston promotion.  My plan is to make a Texas Wildscape  in the part of the yard where the old trees are coming down and the new trees will be going in.  I would like to put in buffalograss, but the homeowner's deed restrictions specify St. Augustine, that water hogging grass.  At least for the front yard...I'll have to check and see if I can buffalograss the backyard.  God knew what He was doing when he planted the things we now call "native species."  The deed restrictions are outdated.  After all, they once prohibited the sale of a house in this n