RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas — Sunrise casts first rays across the tranquil bay, painting coastal lomas with dawn light.
The chaparral is blanketed with snowy white puffballs of thorny tenaza glowing in rich morning sun.
While deep South Texas does not boast spectacular shades of turning autumn leaves, recent rains have the Rio Grande Valley bursting with myriad late summer blooms.
Rain is the magic elixir in South Texas wildlands, and even normally arid portions of the western Valley are a vibrant cornucopia of colorful flowers.
Early morning blooms shimmer with dew like sparkling jewels of the brush country. Mesquite leaves glisten as does wild cenizo or purple sage.
There are some 1,200 native plants in southernmost Texas, and right now it seems like practically all of them are blooming.
The aromatic flowering of whitebrush permeates the air, and is a favorite of the snout butterfly.
Lantana is seemingly everywhere, with fluorescent orange clusters of blooms tucked beneath prickly pear and adorning winding senderos. It too lends a subtle scent that mingles with surrounding assorted flowers producing a veritable symphony of natural fragrance.
While flowering plants hold sway, many like thorny tasajillo are heavy with berries. Even poisonous coyotillo is offering its ripening berries, along with a smattering of delicate yellow flowers.
Perhaps my favorite is tulipan del monte. This enticing native, with velvety crimson petals, is referred to by some as wild hibiscus.
With this breathtaking profusion of flowering you might think it was spring, and I guess in a way it is springtime in September.
One can hardly wait for next sunrise, to see what new blooms the opening of day may reveal.