Tax Carnival #15: Avoiding foolish tax mistakes
Tax phishing season still open

Bluebonnet break

March here in Central Texas was unusually wet, but few folks are complaining. We've had enough of the drought. Thankfully, the 6-plus inches of rain we got last month have refilled area lakes and, just as important, made this a blooming good early spring.

Solo_bluebonnet Wildflowers, especially the Lone Star State's official bluebonnets, are popping up like crazy everywhere.

When the hubby and I take our neighborhood walks, we spot them in dozens of yards, including our own.

I took the shots you see sprinkled in this posting this weekend. They are of some of the bluebonnets in our front yard. We've got about three times the flowers we had last year.

I had another great bluebonnet sighting around noon today, when I was out running an errand. As I pulled back onto RR 620 (a major roadway, despite the "Rural Route" designation), I noticed an SUV pulled over on the side of the road. Then I saw a person out in the grassy roadside.

Bluebonnet_pair

I wondered if something was wrong, but there weren't any obvious signs of distress. Then I figured that maybe a kid had thrown something out a window and the driver had stopped to retrieve it.

As I got closer, I saw that a child was indeed involved, but not as I thought. Mom had placed a toddler smack dab in the middle of a hearty bluebonnet patch. It was a little girl, in a dress with a matching bow atop her head, and Mom was busy taking photos.

I suspect that's the family's 2007 Christmas card picture, a perfect greeting any time of the year from bluebonnet country.

And it just goes to prove that come springtime in Texas, a wildflower patch can literally stop traffic.

Bluebonnet_rock_garden

Wildflower watching: Texas countryside is some of the most beautiful land in the world.

Yes, I'm biased. I was born and raised in West Texas, lived in the state for 26+ years and then moved away for way too long. All those years the hubby and I lived elsewhere, I still remembered (and longed for) the state's gorgeous landscapes, from my hometown desert terrain to Panhandle cropland to the Gulf Coast to Central Texas' hills and wildflower-filled pastures.

Now that we're back in the Lone Star State (for good!) I'm making dang sure that I don't ever take the beauty for granted ever again.

One of the best places to get an idea of the state's beauty is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a botanical garden here in Austin dedicated to native plants. It's appropriately named for the former First Lady who is a wonderful champion of preserving the natural beauty around us.

Although it's based in Austin, the Center has a broader focus. Among its goals:

  • To honor and respect the natural beauty and biological heritage of each region of the country;
  • Conserve and restore wildflowers, native plants and the biological communities on which they depend; and
  • Encourage native flora through artful, naturalistic plantings in public, private, urban and suburban landscapes.

Bluebonnet_rock_garden_closeup I've always heard that a weed is a wildflower without a good PR agency. Well, thanks to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, every natural plant regardless of what we humans call it is well on its way to being recognized as a beautiful and integral part of our overall landscape.

And here's your tax tie-in (you didn't think I'd forget, did you?). You can help support the Wildflower Center's mission with a donation. Details can be found at the Web site link above. Not only will you be helping preserve critical natural flora, donations are tax deductible.

But regardless of whether you give to the Wildflower Center or some other IRS-approved nature organization, at least get out whenever possible and enjoy the natural beauty in your own neck of the woods.

You'll be glad you did.

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