Return of Winter


Springtime

Isn’t it ironic that on the day I post a poem heralding the return of Spring to my part of Texas, that same night we get temperatures below freezing that lasted for three days. It was mostly overnight temperatures that were freezing as during the daytime, the thermometer went up to around 40 degrees which by itself is way too cool for us warm blooded Texans. Just like our women, we like the weather to also be hot although to be fair, you will hear us grumble about continuous 100 degree days in the Summer. Given the choice, most of us will take the heat anytime.

For someone who moved down from New York State 42 years ago, these cold days are nothing compared with some of the horrendous winters that I endured in my 10 years in that State, resulting in my fleeing as fast as I could and as far south as I could in double quick time. When I very occasionally go back for a visit, I make sure it is in the Summertime.

That being said, the frost damage to the new vegetation was not as bad as I thought it might be but will still require some clean up work on my part, darn it. Dare I hope that this is the last of the freezing weather for us. I really want it to be as I can’t remember having frosts this late in the season. Normally, ours is over by the end of January. The forecast is for it to be back up in the 70’s by Thursday with overnights in the 50’s. Makes me wonder if the weather patterns are really changing or is it just some freak act of Nature. I’m waiting to see if the Brown Snake made it through OK as I have kinda got used to having him make me jump out of my skin when I come across him unexpectedly. Good job he is harmless. I wonder what it is about snakes that makes man fear them so much. BTW, I say he but it could be a female. I wonder how you tell the difference?

Talking of ponds, the frost has done a job on the some of the pond vegetation which means that I will need to get into the ponds in order to clean it up. I will put that off as long as I can as the water is freezing cold. Not literally of course but figuratively speaking.

Let’s see where we go from here temperature wise…

Written 3/5/2019

Finally, Rain…


Rainy Day on the Coast

Rainy Day on the Coast

Finally, we got some rain here in my part of Texas. A little more than 2 inches of a steady downpour. Not enough to flood but a nice gentle rain that the hungry soil greedily soaked up with very little run off.

I walked around the garden the next day and was totally amazed at how quickly everything that a couple of days ago was really sorry looking and drooping like it was on its last legs, had recovered. Nature is so amazing and so resilient and it helps that I have all native plants in my garden. The reason for the rain was the most recent Tropical Storm named Gordon off the coast of Mississippi that managed to dump enough rain to make it a very welcome guest. Today the high temperature so far has only reached 92 with yesterday’s high the same. Maybe, just maybe we are all through with the 100 degree days of the past few weeks. So far this year, 2018, Austin has seen 49 days of 100 degree heat a long cry from 2011 when there were 90 days of it. Incidentally, this is the first year that I did not hook up the soaker hose system mainly to see what the end result would be without it. The only watering was to the plants in containers on the deck.

As you can imagine, not only is 100 degrees bloody hot, it is also very tiring and difficult to work outside especially for us older folks. Back in the day, when I was a lot younger, I worked Construction  when I first arrived in Texas and even though it was very hot, it didn’t bother me as much as it does now I am an old fart. I have spent these past few weeks indoors working on my blogs and a couple of other indoor projects and attending to the ponds early in the mornings. I have managed to put together a whole list of projects that I need to do and would normally have been done if not for the heat. These I will work on as soon as it cools to around 90 degrees and lower. Needless to say, I have not even thought about going hiking and as tough of an old bird that I am, even I would probably pass out in the heat.

These are the joys of living in the Lone Star State. At least we don’t get much of a winter which almost makes up for the heat.

Written 9/5/2018

McKinney Roughs 7-27-2017


DSC_6384-PanoEven though the forecast was for the temperatures to get to one hundred degrees, I decided that I wanted to go out again for another walk. I couldn’t make up my mind where to go and finally decided that McKinney Roughs had the most shade cover and was probably the best place.

Something came up which delayed me getting out early and it was almost 11:00 am by the time I arrived at the Park. On the way over, I was mulling over in my mind which trails I wanted to hike and had more or less decided that I would take Coyote Road and then hit Riverside. From there, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go and was going to play it by ear.

I paid my $2:00 and chatted to the young lady at the desk for a bit and learned that some of the trail repairs were complete although it is still not possible to complete the big loop that includes Road Runner and Yaupon.

I set off down Coyote Road which is a big wide trail with not too much shade but heads downhill towards the river. Both Coyote Road and Riverside are best hiked going down as both are somewhat hilly especially Roadrunner.

On the way, after seeing a Roadrunner in the Parking Lot, I followed another one that kept making short flights ahead of me until it finally tired of that game and headed into the brush. It was too far off to get any meaningful shots of it. As I crested one of the short hills on the trail, two deer crossed the road in front of me and of course, were gone by the time I got the long lense camera out and ready. I continued stealthily past the spot where they had entered the brush but they were truly gone.

Continuing down Coyote Road towards the end where it had previously washed out, I took a look at the work that LCRA has performed in rebuilding the washout. It looks like the actual rebuilding of the ditch is complete and now all that remains is a bridge to span the gap. Still a few months away, I would guess.

Heading back , I took Riverside which as the name implies, brings you alongside of the river. That is a very nice trail to walk on with the temperatures so hot as it is completely covered with this wonderful canopy of trees. I was looking for anything of interest that might be in or around the river and spotted a whole flock of Vultures. I could not see what type they were whether they were Black or Turkeys and none took off while I watched them for around 10 minutes. I counted forty or more and I have never seen so many in one place. I have no idea what they were congregating for or about as none appeared to be eating on anything. Maybe it was a Vulture Convention to discuss the weather or the shortage of carrion. Who knows…

I finally left that pack of birds and headed along Riverside and then crossed over onto Bobcat Ridge which I knew would bring me back to my car. On the way, I could hear a whole bunch of people coming and as I rounded the corner, met up with a large group of maybe 25-30 young kids accompanied by two Adults. All the kids were carrying water bottles and pulled over to one side to let me by when instructed to by the lead adult. All that is, except one boy who wanted to know why he had to move over. As I got level with him I said, “It’s age before beauty and I am a lot older and much uglier than you”. Everyone laughed at this as he moved out of the way.

It’s great to see the kids out in the woods enjoying and learning about Nature. Nowadays, kids do not spend enough time outdoors and many haven’t a clue how Nature works, or what sort of trees and flowers they are looking at, or what are the names of the different birds and animals they might be lucky enough to see.

After leaving the kids behind, I continued along Bobcat Ridge and crossed back onto Riverside only because I was running low on water and knew I could replenish as soon as I hit the buildings. As I was taking a picture of the horizon, a young couple came down the hill making real easy work of it. They stopped so as not to get in the way of the shot and I got a back view of them as they disappeared.
DSC_0421

I continued climbing up Riverside which, apart from the steps on Pine Ridge, is the steepest trail in the park. I arrived back at the Park Headquarters and spent some time taking pictures of the flowers planted in the gardens. All are Native Plants and last year were inundated with butterflies. Not  sure what has happened but there are not too many flying today.

All in all, a very enjoyable but somewhat hot, hike. I covered 6.5 miles and got a few shots. I was looking for birds and saw very few and even less to take pictures of. I could hear them but that was about it.

Below are two videos. The first is of the trails at McKinney Roughs, mostly of Coyote Road and Riverside with a couple of Bobcat Ridge.

 

Trails at McKinney Roughs 7-17-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The second is the flowers at McKinney Roughs. Most of them are in the gardens at the Park Headquarters but all are native Plants. There are a couple from out on the trail but they are getting hard to find.

The Flowers at McKinney Roughs 7-27-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Apologies for my absence


Trail

Trail at the Austin Greenbelt

To all of my readers out there, I must apologize for nor blogging for a month or so. I have quite literally been up to my ears building a new website for my favorite Association, the Austin Pond Society. The last Webmaster had slowly been pulling back from his involvement and I had taken over most of his duties in keeping up the old site. He had mentioned that it was time for a new site with a more modern look to it but that he just didn’t have the time.

I am not a computer geek inasmuch that I am not professionally trained but I have been around computers for the past 20 odd years and have had a couple of websites in the past but nothing to the degree that the Pond Society expected. Being the adventuress sort, I said to myself, “What the hell, all I can do is screw up or I might just succeed” and in my mind, failure was not an option.

Central Texas where I live, has been experiencing some very cold (for us) weather with freezes at night and temperatures in the day not going much above 40 degrees Farenheit with some days even colder than that. Consequently, the attraction for going outside and working in the yard or even going hiking was not very appealing and it wasn’t hard to stay glued to the computer for the last couple of months. Sad to say, I got so involved that I even let slip my work out schedule and barely made one trip a week to the gym instead of every two days.

I chose to build the site using WordPress which is also the site that hosts my blog so the decision was not very difficult. I set up a new account and downloaded a package to get me started. I found a hosting site and also downloaded a Theme which I liked and got to work.

It was a struggle at first and more than a little frustrating as many things I tried would not work and I spent a lot of time debugging my own work. I settled on a format that was also flexible enough that I could make changes as the site grows and spent the next two months almost totally glued to my computers. I even had one computer freeze up on me and had to rush it to the shop for repair work but luckily for me, all of the content was backed up.

Finally, last week, the site went live at http://www.austinpondsociety.org That doesn’t mean to say it is finished. Like all good things, the work is never done as there will be pages to add as the Pond Society goes through its usual annual routine of Speakers at the monthly meetings, Sponsor Night when all of our sponsors have a show and tell, the Plant Swap when our members bring in all of their surplus plants, fish and equipment and swap it out for someone else’s plants, fish and equipment. Everyone goes home happy. The big item will be the Pond Tour that this year that will be held on June 6,7. Following that, the next meeting will be a review of the Pond Tour when many of those that showed their ponds talk about their experiences. The final meeting in November will be our Thanksgiving/Christmas Party when a fun time is had by all. Finally, as the weather warms, there will be hikes and trips to the great outdoors.

So, I have lots of material up ahead to report on both in the new website and also in the Ripples, the quarterly Pond Society newsletter for which I am the Editor, and of course my own blog which I have neglected these past couple of months.

Luckily for me, the weather is going to warm up. After all, this is Texas, the State with the 100 degree summers. This we can rely on with real certainty. Usually, we go from Winter and the small amount of cold that we have to endure directly to Summer. Somehow, we miss out on Spring as it slips by us so fast that we barely notice it probably because it lasts all of two days. Just kidding of course but the temperatures do warm up very quickly.

I can’t wait. I hate the cold which is why I ended up in Texas after ten years of New York State winters. Oh yes, please check the new site out and let me know what you think of it. Criticism or Praise, we all need both.

Maybe, I’ll see you on the hiking trails.

Its Hot. What do you expect for Texas…


 

Looking over a sun baked field

Looking over a sun-baked field

After a month or two of pleasant times
with temperatures not unduly high
hoping this might be the year
when the weather is kind to us
but this last week things have changed
with not a rain cloud in the sky
and Nature has reverted true to form
with temperatures back to the norm.

After such a slow start
with Mother nature being a dear
we were wondering what is happening to us
able to work outside without fear
of burning up or feeling faint
no energy to do our tasks
but gradually things have changed
and summer time in Texas is here at last.

For those of you from cooler climes
Eighty degrees are probably hot
and if ever ninety degrees it reached
then a heat wave is your lot
try going out when the temperature is high
lets say a hundred degrees or more
and it hits like a furnace on your face
when you step outside the door.

Welcome to Texas is all I can say
as that is what its like here today
a hundred degrees and probably more
when I step outside my door
to go to the store with things to buy
and in the car it is so cool
but when from the car I dare to step
its hot, so bloody hot and I know
that the Texas summer is now on show.

Not much of a crop

Not much of a crop