Welcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we join our pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.
This week’s nature moment is a bit of a travelogue from last week’s Thanksgiving festivities from my trip with my Dad and brother to see family in the Lone Star state. It was so special seeing everyone after losing mom earlier in the year. One moment however did dampen the holiday when we ‘encountered‘ a deer at dusk in rural Texas. Other than the deer, the only other casualty was Dad’s car but we were thankfully, unscathed (other than frazzled nerves). Getting there was quite the adventure with miles and miles of wide open spaces that were particularly stunning for this here city-slicker.
With miles of driving, taking hours and hours to reach our destination just outside Austin, our route took us through the northern part of New Mexico’s quiet plains. Vistas with plateaus in the distance and flat-to-rolling plains along the highway showed a “Dances With Wolves” landscape. Wide open and unblemished save for the occasional fence post. It made me wonder what was being corralled for no antelope, deer or cattle were spotted as we drove through.
Apart from wide open spaces, miles and miles of cotton fields were encountered once we reached the Panhandle. It was beyond anything I’d ever seen before. Fields of white fluff as far as the eye could see.
Getting to Texas is a long, challenging drive. My first shift behind the wheel was 5 hours long and yet there was still so much farther to go. After my brother hit the deer and made a turn in the wrong direction, we ended up spending the night in Abilene. We arrived at my sister’s the next day.
Reaching my sister’s took us through pecan country. These beautiful trees can be seen from roadsides as well as directly in my sister’s neighborhood. The pecan tree, like the fruit of other members of the hickory genus, is not truly a nut, it’s technically a drupe meaning fruit with a single stone/pit, surrounded by a husk produced from the exocarp tissue of the flower (the internal structure of the fruit, i.e. its ovaries). The nut develops from that structure and contains the seed. My sister said they are a ‘messy tree,’ having spent days and days raking up leaves and hulls before we arrived. I was captivated by the large, wide canopy on these trees.
In addition to pecans, live oaks (which don’t lose their leaves) were abundant. This one was full of acorns and filled my head with visions of clever craft projects.
The landscape was not all drab, with this colorful beauty gracing the pool area. “Duranta repens” (a part of the verbena family native from Mexico to South America and the Caribbean) is a flowering ornamental shrub. It’s apparently considered an invasive weed in some areas of Australia but is very striking.
Despite warm temps (warm by Colorado standards), Thanksgiving Day was deemed ‘chilly’ in that it only reached the upper 50’s for our traditional family game of football following the tasty meal. There was a brisk wind which, coupled with humidity, made it seem cooler than the numbers might suggest. It struck me how relative perspective played out with each of our interpretations of ‘chilly.’
My canine buddy during the visit was sweet little Miley who decided I was a good auntie and kept me from missing Norman and Elsa too much. A pocket full of tasty treats and belly rubs go a long way.
Our return trip was uneventful and we powered through 13 1/2 hours of driving in one felled swoop. A long drive buoyed by great memories of a family who enjoys celebrating holidays with one another no matter what the cost. Hopefully we can make another trip down there without time restrictions and really enjoy some of the amazing slices of nature along the way.
Now that we’re in December and many of us are preparing for the next holiday, we hope you’ll be able to sandwich in some time during these hectic days enjoying a quiet moment of pleasure experiencing nature at its best. Have a great weekend!
Live, love, bark! 🐾