Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
When I was young and just a kid I never thought of what I did I had no concept of time and would rise with the sun my life just fine I walked to school with my friends and then walked back home again learning in a class so big with a teacher that used a very big stick which she used quite frequently on troublesome students just like me I never complained to my folks as they thought it one big joke and said that she was probably right and was not doing it out of spite but to teach right from wrong to kids like me they had their own philosophy and in their eyes she could do no wrong and school is where I really belonged I grew up and I survived no worse for wear for the hidings I took but wiser yet in so many ways and the teachers name was Mrs Ray such was my life long long ago growing up in the country that I loved so but that was almost a lifetime in years as I was but a lad of with no fears and even though it hurt at the time I thank Mrs Ray for being so sublime as she did not know that in her own way she has shaped my life to this very day such are the memories I have to show from almost seventy five years ago.
The Austin Pond Society held their annual pond tour over the weekend of June 1-2 returning after missing out on having a tour last year, 2018. The size of the tour was also cut back to a more manageable number easily covered on each day, Saturday for the South Side of the Colorado River and Sunday for the north side.
The tour had a few of the spectacular favorites plus several new ponds which have never been on the tour before. All, regardless of the size, had something to offer in the way of beauty and in some cases, originality. One of the highlights included a nest of Yellow Crowned Night Herons complete with three babies that appeared to almost be ready to fly the roost. Ironic that one of the pond owners natural enemies could hold so much fascination when babies are involved.The night pond that has been on the tour several times before was just as spectacular as it has always been.
If you click on a picture, it will enlarge and you can use the side arrows to move along. Use the “escape” key to return to normal size.
I have put together two slideshows which takes about twenty minutes to view but is well worth it as it shows the spectacular beauty of ponds of different sizes and types and all of the accompanying work that has gone into the landscaping and plants and flowers that make up the whole garden. One pond even had three live donkeys which attracted as much attention as the ponds for the younger members on the tour.
All in all, the tour was a resounding success and even though smaller than previous tours, has probably set a new standard in both number of ponds and quality.
I went out for a drive and of course, took my camera with me. I headed towards Dripping Springs with the ultimate goal of driving into Wimberley. This is a nice old Hill Country Town founded in 1848 and most of the buildings reflect the age of the town although I don’t think any go back that far. The shops are many and specialize in arts and crafts. I was there on a Sunday and business was brisk with the sound of music coming from several different locations. The town is located on the banks of the Cypress Creek which flows through the center of the town and has many, many very old and and very large Cypress trees. One of the trees has a nameplate designating it as “Big Daddy” Circa 1400 AD which makes it well over 600 years old.
I walked around town taking pictures and one of the things that I noticed were the colorful cowboy boots at different locations. These are part of a project started in 2014 named Bootiful Wimberley and to date, there are 50 boots located around the town. You can read more about this project and see more pictures of all of the Boots at this Link. I was only able to locate a few in the area that I covered but even they are very impressive.
I spent time on the creek taking pictures but I cannot do justice to the Cypress trees as they are far too tall to include the entire tree from my position under them. Many stand 80 to 100 feet or more high.
On the way out of town, I decided to take the River Road to see the views along the Creek and the rock formations that make up the banks. I was not disappointed and got some great pictures.
Tired of sitting around indoors, I made a last minute decision that I wanted to take a hike. The next question was where did I want to go. After considerable thought, I decided that as I hadn’t been to McKinney Roughs in a while, that would be a good place. I texted my friend BJ to see if she was interested but she texted back that she already had plans.
I wasn’t about to let that stop me from enjoying the beautiful Spring day and after a short drive of about thirty miles, found myself in the parking lot at McKinney. I had recently bought a new backpack that I hadn’t yet had time to try out. I had already packed it with all of the relevant gear including the Tamron 160-600 long lens which, if I plan on using , usually carry already attached to a camera and on a waist harness. The carrying system that I have is from Cotton Carrier which enables me to carry two cameras and a pair of binoculars at the same time if I so choose. This lens adds considerably to the weight of the pack as it weighs in around 5.5 pounds when attached to the camera making it a very heavy addition. The new pack also had straps on the bottom allowing me to pack a lightweight tripod just in case I needed it. Altogether, the pack weighs in at around 25 pounds fully loaded so in many ways, this was going to be a test as to whether I could manage such a heavy load.
I stopped in at the office and paid my $5.00 and chatted to the lady behind the window and set off heading for the Riverside trail. Turns out that there was going to be a wedding and preparations were underway with the staff busy setting up tables outside and a band off to one side that was practicing and getting their sound systems just right. Another lady was preparing bouquets for each table and there was a general air of busyness.
I walked on Riverside heading out into the beautiful lush new spring growth that Nature provides us every year taking pictures as I went. I wasn’t really sure which trails I was going to take as I had no plan and was waiting to see what would guide me. On a whim, I turned off onto Valley View and followed it for a while and then took Bluff Trail Loop. This trail has a major overlook of the valley below with glimpses of the Colorado River. The river was extremely muddy colored as there had been a lot of rain very recently and was flowing quite strongly. I did not plan on walking down to the river on this particular walk guessing that the bottom trails would be very muddy and cut up.
I completed Bluff Trail Loop then headed back up Ridge to the Main Campus. I passed back alongside the wedding area taking care not to get too close as I didn’t want to interrupt anything. As it happens, the guests were just starting to arrive looking somewhat out of place with the men all dressed up in suits and ties and the women in dresses with summer hats. It would have been more fitting if they had on shorts and tees to go along with the scenery. Oh well…Still a beautiful place for a wedding. Lets hope that the lucky couple can copy nature and make their marriage last forever. Hard to do in these modern times but I wish them the very best. Guess I am a cynic.
Altogether, I covered 4.5 miles and I’m happy to say that the pack rode very well. I only noticed it a couple of times and if it had become too heavy, I could have always pulled out the camera and long lens and attached it to one of the carrying straps on my waist belt. I got some great pictures and everything is so wonderfully green with lots of wildflowers in bloom. Here’s looking forward to the next walk.
The view out of the back window looking towards Zilker Park and the City of Austin.
With frightening regularity, the calendar once more moved to the third Monday of the month bringing with it, the Austin Pond Societies Monthly Meeting held as usual in the Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. This meeting was our Annual Plant Swap when our members bring in their surplus plants both of the garden and pond variety. The one stipulation is that if by chance, anything you bring in is not taken by another eager Ponder or Gardener, then it must return home with the original owner. That turned out not to be the case this time around as the offerings were pretty slim compared to previous plant swap meetings which is surprising considering that this was our best attended meeting of the year with about forty members showing up.
Along with the Swap and at the same time, Darren Bayhi was holding a re-potting seminar for anyone interested in “How to re-pot Lilies” which included both Tropical, Hardies and also Lotus.. As the swap was drawing to a close, more and more people stopped by Darren’s table to ask questions and watch his demonstration.
Prior to the swap, many members had volunteered to help set up the tables and kiddie pools used for this event. For this, they were given the opportunity of having first dibs at whatever took their fancy before the main body was let loose. With the small number of plants on offer, this was a good decision on their part.
Prior to the actual swap and following a meal of hot dogs with all of the fixin’s topped off by various deserts brought in by the members, Barb Lenhardt, President, had some business to offer which included a discussion by Ted Paone, who talked about the upcoming Tour with the membership. He outlined the Charities that will benefit which includes Central Texas Gardner on KLRU-TV, Austin Pets Alive, and Donor Choice, a charity which funds projects for teachers and students. Prior to his presentation, Ted was awarded the Koi Person of the Year Award voted on by the Members present for his efforts with the Pond Tours.
Ted was followed by Mike Peppers, our new Treasurer who outlined the budget for the Members along with many apologies for the lateness of the report. With the budget voted on and passed by the Membership and there not being anymore business, it was time to get on with the important event of the day which of course, was the Plant Swap.
Following the aforementioned reward for volunteering, they were allowed out the door first followed after a few minutes by the rest of the Members. The plants were taken in record time and the clean up started by those same volunteers who we thank for their efforts.
The next meeting will be on May 20th. The Speaker will be Katie Boyer of the US Fish and Wildlife and she will be talking about Monarch Butterflies. As these are another of Nature’s species that are in trouble due to man’s incompetence in managing the Planet, then it would be well worth our while to see what we can do to help save this species.
Thinking about days gone by sometimes makes me want to cry remembering things from the past of all of the times that did not last as memories are just what they are a fleeting moment like a shooting star a tick in time in our busy lives lasting as long as the mind survives each one replaced by something new created each moment as our minds construe slipping along from thing to thing understanding what out eyes do bring back to the brain a very safe place and another memory is now locked in space for how to describe what memories are records of our past viewed from afar the problem is that we have no choice on what to remember we have no voice so happy and sad good times and bad are all there before us to drive us all mad as we torment ourselves as we wonder why if only I had, a recurring cry but we cannot change things in the past and can only hope that our memories last for time has a habit of clearing the mind and memories fade and we no longer can find as the years pass by it is hard to recall though the memories we have are so plentiful.
Lets see a quick review of the things that I want to do now that the New Year has already begun and we have started to have some fun no resolutions did I set knowing that I would soon forget at keeping them I am not very good as least not as good as I should and generally it is a waste of time and so I have drawn the line and instead will outline this years plan hiking of course of which I’m a big fan and taking pictures while I am out on the trail with words to fit I shall prevail and post in my blog for all to see how words and pictures make harmony I plan on losing a little more weight for that what I have is extra freight to carry around an unnecessary risk to eat less is the way to the fix along with working out at the gym to try to make the body more trim and regain the muscle that I have lost as old age creeps on and is really the boss so really there is a very short list one that I can easily fix take pictures and hike as far as I can write in my blog for all of my fans cut back on my eating and lose some pounds and work out at the gym myself to confound with just how easy it really can be to make 2019 my legacy.
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