The south side of Beaumont features a tertiary water treatment area maintained as a wildlife/bird refuge called CatTail Marsh. It is 950 acres of water and marsh and reeds and alligators and frogs and birds. And now there is a lovely overlook with Seaport Coffee offered on Tuesday mornings.
We drove out expecting to see some of the 40 people who had expressed interest–but met only about four or five. Glen helped put together a coffee stand for the station; and we watched cement parking lot stations being fastened in the parking lot. It was cloudy and promised rain; not a lot of birds were out.
I did capture the red-winged blackbird—a reminder of my home in southwestern Wisconsin.
We picked up a brochure and map labeling all the birding sites in the area—a new project for us–that sounds like fun–if only the dogs would behave for such a project.
And then we were gifted with a plushie Northern flicker and a bluebird–each with their song playing when pressing a button on their back. AND learned of an education program featuring looking at the birds to earn a plushie. We are a tad too old to participate but hopefully this will be a fun grandchild thing.
This week’s new photo assignment is to find something that rhymes with ‘ork’. Going through the alphabet led me to ‘Stork’. Maybe the spoonbills were out at Cat-Tail Marsh.
It has been a few months since we’ve been there. A new observation post has been set up, the parking lot is nicely paved and level replacing the gravelly rutty one, and it was a fine day–in the 70’s after a few days of miserable gray dreary cold days.
People were out…with small children, dogs on leashes; one was a dedicated runner, another was a casual bicyclist. Then there were the photographers—dressed in camo with yard long lenses.
I had my trusty little Canon SX10 and no tripod.
The spoonbills were not to be seen.
In fact, there didn’t seem to be many birds. Maybe they were frightened away by all the building commotion. We did learn a large eagle nest with chicks was at the far end of the pond and spoonbills were plentiful at Anahuac.
Another time–perhaps—-but it was a nice day to be out.
Somehow January always flies by along with all of my good intentions. With the federal government in disarray we chose to do our First Day of the Year hike in Village Creek State Park. One of the trails had been re-opened after Harvey with extensive work by the rangers. We marveled at the amount of sand the river had deposited…one ranger told us that sand covered the trees and vegetation..almost like snow!
We learned that work days were planned for volunteers to come in and assist with getting the park back into visitor readiness. On the first Saturday of February, a group of about ten folks arrived with work gloves and ready to work.
Our job was to smooth out one trail and to reclaim two picnic sites. The flooding had deposited 6 to 12 inches of lovely white…and HEAVY sand on two of the sites. We shoveled and raked and hauled sand for three hours….I did some shoveling and raking–but spent more time taking photos until I filled up my card.
The two rangers worked along with us–putting as much if not more effort into the project. We offered all sorts of suggestions of needed equipment and wished TxDOT would repair the bridge soon–easier and safer for needed equipment to drive over a bridge that doesn’t have a huge hole underneath..but the state moves slowly.
But then, the quiet and stillness of just a few people shuffling through the sand and no engines, just the wind whispering in the tree tops, the hawk soaring overhead….maybe it is just fine that the bridge is low on their to-do list.
A few more photos of the day are here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Texas/Village-Creek-State-Park/i-gvZs9Ns/A
We are fortunate to live near the Big Thicket. This happens to be part of the swamp land extending to Florida. At one time and probably still does, people wishing to avoid the consequences of illegal activities hid out in this thickety swampy area. Early missionaries, soldiers, explorers, and ‘the law’ frequently gave up on penetrating this area.
Today, though, large sections are blocked off with boardwalks and trails throughout.
After attending a Christmas party in the country and eating far too much, we decided to take a walk on one of the nearby trails….the Sundew.
We may have spied one sundew plant but there were absolutely no bugs out–a delight for us–but no dinner for the sundews or the pitcher plants.
Freezing temperatures were predicted for that Saturday night which meant slick roads and hoarfrost.
I had loaded up my truck with all the fruits of my labor of the past week and all I needed now were the few things I had in the cabin. I had to wait for the my windscreen to defrost before I could leave–and that took a good half hour of running that diesel engine and patiently scraping away at the ice. The sun helped some and while I was waiting I managed to get a few photos of the hoarfrost on the vegetation.
Slowly I drove past the Art Studio, careful not to come to a full stop at the stop sign at the bottom of hill lest I slide into the Cuchara River. I made it through town without incident and had planned to take a photo of the mountains on the road to Walsenberg. But the turnoff was slick and after sliding a bit, decided the image would have to remain in my memory and not as a digital image.
A large herd of pronghorn was on the hillside and again I wanted a photo but with that ice and now a vehicle following me, it too had to remain in my memory. People here are much more polite driving than in many parts of Texas—slick roads for me meant slick roads for the vehicles following me and we slowly drove at about 35 miles an hour into Walsenberg. No-one was tail-gating, no-one roared past me at the stop light in town.
Once on Interstate 25, I spied a large semi lying on its side just outside Walsenberg and was not pleased to see a flurry of snowy fog/ice mist ahead of me.
Once through the pass, the sun shone and roads were clear and I was on my way home.
After getting stuck in the snow, requiring a pull-out by a neighbor, I managed to drive VERY slowly down the road and unload my baskets of fabric, sewing machine, and accoutrements. Two fellow students were already there–sewing away. The other students were all staying at the Inn next door and I almost wished I had done the same as it was a two minute walk from their door to the Studio.
Two Fox Cabins was very cozy and it allowed a nice walk to and from and not too far away from Alys’ restaurant where we had our evening meal.
Everyone worked really hard, two on Rhapsody variations–I was jealous of their work, and two worked on individual pieces they had designed in large part prior to arrival.
I had planned on doing a series of dawn images but changed to using some images from my father’s tools and bits and bobs. Initially I put them all on the same background but decided I liked them better separated.
One of the daily events was spying the mule deer that wandered about town like regular citizens. And everyday a trip to Charlies was needed to pick up a fresh cinnamon roll or other breakfast treat. Charlie’s is a general store with notices regarding lost dogs, upcoming events, sales of various sorts and any sort of announcement that is needed to make things work in a small town.
This is a long awaited week. I’ve had a hard year and this was to be my present to myself for surviving it although my pocketbook is considerably slimmer.
I like to sight-see as I go places–whether work, pleasure, or family. Road construction always makes things a bit more iffy and so I plan extra time. This trip I had allotted two days for travel, a day and a half to sight-see and get accustomed to the altitude.
Yesterday I wrote about the cotton—
I arrived mid Saturday afternoon and was immediately warned about the impending bad weather. There were still small piles of snow heaped around trees and in ditches from the last snow.
I have been ensconced in a cute little cabin in LaVeta watching the snow fall. It is still falling; I do have hiking boots but they are in my truck a hundred yards away. I’ve spent the day pruning my email lists and folders. While all of that is good–I would have preferred a trip to the Sand Dunes but I was not going to chance not getting back with all that snow.
I am hoping I do have a workshop that starts tomorrow night–but travel for the host with all of this snow is a bit iffy—–and so—perhaps I’ll tackle pruning and organizing my smugmug photos.
this is my cabin–note the coffee pot and coffee cup along with the extra blankets.
The first time I saw cotton fields was in Guelph Georgia. I was volunteering at a public health project involving checking blood pressures and weights of a small community—a town composed of a post office, a cotton gin, and a house. I thought those fields were white roses.
Later I learned that the first perfect cotton bale occupied a position of honor in Augusta Georgia for one year until the next year’s harvest. People told me about picking cotton and how heavy the bags were and how rough the bolls were.
Then I moved to Texas and decided to grow cotton one year in my front yard–not nearly enough to make enough a handkerchief. I was amazed at how lovely the blossom was—and later learned it was in the same family as okra and hollyhocks. I learned about prison grown cotton and how wonderful it was.
On my way to Del Rio I encountered what I thought initially was rain–but it was bits of cotton stalks being blown across the road. The cotton was being put into large round bales–just like hay.
And two days ago I just had to stop and take pictures of more cotton. I was too shy to ask for a tour of the cotton gin in action–but there were those round bales of cotton and then there was this immense stack of cotton easily thirty feet high and several hundred feet long. Cotton was on the sides of the road—looking like bits of snow.
And tomorrow—snow in Colorado!
While work is satisfying in its own way, driving through parts of this country has its own appeal.
Del Rio is located on the Rio Grande not as far west as El Paso but still a long drive from the most eastern part of Texas. The town is a border town with Spanish being spoken, many are bilingual but many still depend upon an interpreter–usually a younger member of the family.
My work there is always on a Saturday and frequently leaves me large parts of Saturday afternoon to explore the area. I’ve visited Amistad Resevoir, Seminole Canyon State park, Whitehead Museum featuring Judge Roy Bean the Hanging Judge, and driven past the Brinkley mansion–home of the famous goat testicle implant doctor.
Agriculture seems to consist of large fields of cotton. Last month I watched them harvest the cotton, with flurries of cotton plants blowing around like dirty brown snowflakes. The cotton was put into bales, many of which are still on the edge of the fields. Now some of them are numbered. I tried to get a good photo of them, but the best opportunity was near a sign warning me not to pick up hitchhikers as they may be escaping inmates.
There are three bladed windmills absorbing power and windmills pumping water.
There is a border patrol station complete with a K-9 and cameras to look under vehicles.
And yesterday there was one of the most spectacular sunrises I have seen in a long time. If I hadn’t been so concerned regarding driving through San Antonio (traffic was very light) and then Houston (traffic very heavy) I would have stopped just to enjoy.
A familiar fall task in Southwestern Wisconsin is picking up walnuts. The lime green husks are easy to spot; not so easy are the ones fallen a few days earlier with the husks now a dark brownish-black. Although gloves might be used to pick them up, fingers are always stained a luscious brown for more than a few hand-washings.
One tree stands behind the garage on my farm–it wasn’t there when I grew up there–but squirrels conveniently planted it and it has survived. It now provides shade and an abundance of walnuts.
I could leave them for the squirrels and one year my husband picked them all up and put them in the bath-tub that lives in the garage. The squirrels thought this quite convenient as when he returned in the spring thinking he could spend evenings shelling walnuts, the bath-tub was empty.
My father used to lay them all out on a tarp to dry; then would husk them, let them dry again and then shell them in the evenings. He cracked several pie platefuls on an anvil in the basement; sometimes used a vise, turning the handle being a bit easy than whacking them with a hammer.
Before dogs arrived I would spend twenty minutes or so on my front porch cracking and shelling walnuts—until the mosquitoes descended upon me. Whacking away at an inanimate object was a great stress reliever.
Picking up all those walnuts–I stopped at two dog food bags full was a pleasurable reminder of past days and memories.
Thinking back upon my experiments with indigo dye–the first color appearing is a wonderful lime green—the same as the walnut husk.