Saturday, August 21, 2010

Evening Walk

I put in a long, hard day today. I was putting the finishing touches on a horse barn I'm building for a customer. I got home right at supper time and ate, but I knew I needed to keep going for a while. I just can't stop that suddenly after a long day in this heat. I need to taper off to a stop.

I decided to take a walk. I am so lucky in that respect. The Corp of Engineers property around North Fork Lake is right behind my house. It's only a couple hundred yards to the water, and that water is the absolute upper end of the lake when it is at normal pool level, so you have standing water and a river running into it. It's really beautiful and I'm lucky enough to have it so close by when I need to go walk about. Of course I took a camera.

Before I even got out of the gardens I spotted a Coral Snake by the raised veggie beds. I got a quick picture before he got into the Powis Castle. It was a pretty big one as well.
After going through the back walk through gate, I turned onto the trail. As I walked by my neighbors place I noticed his calves playing king of the mountain on a mound of dirt. They do this a lot.

Leaving the calves to the watchful eyes of Ol' 272, I stayed on the trail I had built nearly fifteen years ago when we first bought this place. I was lucky to find an old road bed going down the hill into the river bottom. I cleared it out, with Lyn's help of course. It is like a tunnel in the cedars, openings on both ends and not much of a way out through the middle. In cooler seasons I would be on my mountain bike instead of walking. I noticed the big Summer Grape vine at the top had already lost most of it's leaves in this oppressive drought we are in. The leaves just don't have that crisp, bright color of fall leaves.

Even as thick as the brush is along the tunnel trail there is still some nice scenes, thanks to the fading evening light.

Before dropping down into the shadows of the tunnel I noticed a little life and death in nature taking place. A big ladder spider had caught itself a big buffalo grasshopper and had it trussed up neat as a pin. Just about every one I know calls these banana spiders. I always think of the Alien movies when I see this as I know the grasshopper is still alive, biding it's time until eaten.

After exiting the evening darkness of the tunnel I noticed the wild plums were having a fairly good year even with it being dry. They do have the advantage of growing in the riparian zone and in central Texas that is a big advantage. The moisture in the soil here is enough to grow a completely different assortment of plants that won't grow above it.

They look tasty don't they? You don't want to eat them though. They are a solid ten on the pucker factor scale. One bite and your lips are further back than your tonsils. Leaves a chalky taste in your mouth as well. Oh yeah, you know I've tried them before.

The Saw Leaf Daisy's were just about to have their big show. A few were already blooming but there were thousands that were almost ready. I almost never miss the big show, it's rather spectacular.

With these daisies the petals don't fold out but grow after the flower is formed. I much prefer the looks of the blooms when the petals are almost non existent.

I can't imagine why they are called Saw Leaf Daisies.
I finally waded through the thickets of Saw Leafed Daisies and got to the road. I wanted to check on the lake level and river flow while I was down here. Just before getting into sight of the water I came upon one of the most vividly colored of the flowers we have around here. I did not alter the color of this picture at all. The colors look almost fake but they are not. It is Eryngo, prickly looking but only for people with secretarial hands. Those colors are almost electric looking.
One look down river and I knew it was bad. With the last of the demon sun's rays on the cliffs, the view was beautiful but there just isn't the water there should be. I looked around and was pleasantly surprised to not see any trash. Some times it is so depressing to see what we humans can do to something this beautiful.

I looked up river and it showed the same lack of water that should be there. Man we need some rain.
I headed back to the house. As I exited the cedars, the view of our place looked pretty good. The nice neat row of cisterns, the fruit trees, the flower beds and the log house that we built with our own hands. I liked the neatness of it but it didn't look terribly out of place with the natural world we had tried so hard to keep close.

Here at the start of the trail is where we had buried two of our dogs and I'm sure where we will bury the ones we have now. I like it that they are here by the trail they so liked to traverse.

As I started forward I noticed a cloud of reddish dust start up at one of my boots. It was the pollen of a star fungus. Every one called them devil's snuff boxes when I was a kid. They have a thick, tough outer shell that protects the pollen until the time is right. It splits into pie slices and peels back to reveal a softer membrane that has the pollen inside of it. Some of these are very poisonous if you inhale much of the pollen. In the olden days they would say you were dealt the Devils Hand if you were poisoned with it. I think it takes a long and painful time to die.

You can see the pollen dust here. Looks just like Garrett snuff to me.

I got back to the house to find out that our old dog, Pepper, had up chucked 15 peach pits and some blood. Looks like a trip to the vet tomorrow. Oh well, it was still a good walk.


Patchwork said...

That was a nice walk.

You're right...we really need some rain. And, a little less heat would be nice, too.

Hope Pepper is OK.

Thanks for the tour.

Tabor said...

Our drought may make our fall as brown as well. I hope not. NIce neighborhood. I had never seen that fungus. Very interesting.

Kathleen Scott said...

Hi Bob, Thanks for stopping by and commenting at Hill Country Mysteries. I was tickled to follow your profile back to your blog.

I was tickled at what your mother would have said. My father's comment on Adventures in Eating night was always, "We didn't eat this in East Texas." Delivered with a shake of the head.

Have you ever seen the Texas star fungus in your area? It's reported to be rare...but you're observant and might see it when other people would pass by.

TexasDeb said...

It was fun to take a walk with you even if some of the scenery was a little rough. Lots of life and death out there for folks with keen eyes.

I am sad to see the water so low but I'm optimistic for rain to come and cooler days as well. I can't say what worldwide effects will be long term but in the past three years there has been a shift already in what has dominated our garden spaces.

Any good news to share about Pepper?

ConsciousGardener said...

Awesome post Bob, I've never heard of Star Fungus and I love the photos of the eryngo! I had a chance to see a few in the wild out west last week!

Bob said...

Cheryl, you can look up Earth Star fungus and there is a lot of info.

Pepper is good. They figured a sharp end of a pit must have stuck her.

Mamaholt said...

What a great post! I felt like I was walking with you. What a magnificent place you have.

Bob said...

Well Mrs. Wabi Sabi, I would love to have you visit some time so you could see for your self.

ESP said...

Hi Bob.

What a fabulous journey through the Texas countryside you took us through, complete with your childhood recollections. Not being from these parts (as you well know) I am always fascinated by your connections and childhood insights into these native Texas plants. I felt like I was walking with you on this journey.

Great writing and you HAVE to get me one of those Eryngos (I hope I have the plural terminology correct!) Wow! How stunning is this puts a Scottish thistle to shame (Sshh...don't tell William I said this).

You live in a truly beautiful area, and no wonder you fly-fish!

I have meant to ask you this for some time...Do you know where I can get some more cedar stump carcasses? I need some to elevate some more Mex.gazing balls.


Bob said...

Philip, there are several cedar stumps along the drive way that you are welcome to. Let me know when you can come out and they are yours.

Pam/Digging said...

Fantastic post, Bob. I felt as if I were right there with you on your walk. You have an observant eye for what's happening among the little creatures of the garden and the wild. And I learned much about the wild plants you commented on too.

Lancashire rose said...

Thanks for taking me along with you on your evening walk. It was fun and we got to see all kinds of things. Some familiar ones and some not so familiar. Like the yellow flowers. Don't know those. I have watched the"zipper spiders" wrap up a bug in lightening time, rolling it round and round like a mummy. I would love to grow those eryngos. The WFC always has some in the fall but I failed to grow them from seed.
I think you will get your wish on the rain this week They forecast 5" Maybe just a little too much for one go.