Todays Ramblings

A Pleasant Trail

The weather is starting to warm up here in my part of Central Texas, just outside of Austin to be exact. It has been in the mid to high 90’s and won’t be long before we hit our first 100 degree day. From that point on, it will be a question of how many of those super hot days will we get. In 1980, there were 42 consecutive days of 100 degrees and so far, that is the record for Texas. That was set in Dallas. With climate change an ever present factor, that record could easily be broken. The record set in 2011 for the number of 100 degree days in a year was 69. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a lot of super warm days. There is no reason to suppose that this year will be any different in terms of heat but who knows if any records will be broken. Hopefully, none.

Native Texans are a tough bunch and although I have been here 43 years, I do not claim Texas Citizenship. A United States Citizen, yes but I don’t know the qualification to become a Texas Native. I guess you need to be born in the State to make that claim. Needless to say Native Texan or not, that sort of weather is accepted for not having a real winter. Sure, we might get a frost or two that require covering pipes and plants and the occasional sleet or snow which is gone by morning but usually that is the sum extent of our winter here in Central Texas. This past winter, we had a couple of frost’s early in November and that was all we got. I had the garden cut back and cleaned up by late December which is very unusual. This has resulted in an unprecedented amount of new growth in both grass and plants and I have already mowed the area outside of my fence five times which is three more than for all of last year and we are still growing. Of course, as it gets hotter, especially if we don’t get much in the way of rain, things will start to dry and shrivel up.

The trouble with Texas heat is just that. It is bloody hot and unless you are an outdoor worker, of which there are many, outdoor activities are usually restricted to early and mid mornings. I find that as I grow older, I am not very inclined to be out in it longer than I need be which includes hiking. If I can’t do the work or hike in the morning then it probably isn’t going to happen unless it is an emergency with the ponds. We have this thing called A/C short for air conditioning which is a godsaver in the summer. The trouble is that when going outside for whatever reason on a 100 degree day, it is like walking into a blast furnace due in part to said A/C.

I emigrated from New York State in 1977 to come to Texas mainly because of a job offer too good to refuse. I had no idea what I was walking into although, back then, as a comparatively young guy of 41, working outside did not present the hardships that it does today. I’m sure that a lot of it is an attitude of mind as I needed to work to survive and I had a good job as a Superintendent of Construction. Besides, like everything else, out of necessity one adjusts. I did get smart enough after a couple of years of sweating to get a job at the University of Texas as a Manager of the Scheduling Department where I remained for the next 22 years. That was primarily an office job and I could generally pick and choose when I needed to venture outside.

In my younger days, I was a very avid football player, thats soccer to you Americans. I played for teams that would travel around a bit and play in Tournaments for fun which usually were played in the summer. This resulted one year of playing in Dallas when the thermometer went up to 108 degrees during one of our games. Those type of tournaments are played with the unlimited substitution rule meaning that there were no restrictions on the number of times you could exchange places with another player. Normally, the player coming off complains bitterly and grumbles and groans and is generally upset at the world but on this particular game, players were asking to come off even if they did not have someone to take their place, it was that bloody hot. I played in another game in Houston a different year where it was not quite as hot with the temperature only 106 except there was very high humidity for which Houston is renowned and the same thing occurred there. Players begging for a sub and half a team at a time coming off. Incidentally, playing in those sort of conditions is not something I would recommend to anybody. Tempers flare in the heat and some players do not adapt very well.

Now, I am much older and of course, no longer play although I was 72 when I finally quit playing. I still hike although I haven’t been out very much since the Covid -19 came on the scene and I fear that my hiking will be very limited this summer. This will also impact the number of pictures that I take as, for me, one of the joys of hiking is to record as many pictures as possible and then write about them and the hike. Like everyone else, it is hell growing old although it is a privilege not shared by all and for that I am truly grateful, hot Texas weather and all.

Written 5/22/2020