Beachy Keen

Tree trunk with ocean decor

We spent last night in a misty Galveston Island, Texas. I’ll write more about it later, but thought I’d share a few pictures of things I found washed up on the beach.

The tree looks like a whale from this angle.

One particular piece of wood that had been in the water enough for barnacles to grow on it really seemed beautiful. Such a mix of land and sea.

What’s your guess as to what this is?

We also found another rock or piece of tree or coral. It was hard to say. But there were some cool worm tubes on it, too.

Little shells in a heap.

Of course there were shells, mostly broken up, but in many shapes and colors. Where they washed up in piles I kept thinking they’d make a great computer monitor background.

Coral, and my Valentine nails, which are red, pink, coral, or watermelon.

I did find a small piece of coral, too. I have to say these and the oysters in the bay kept distracting me from my bird and plant recording duties, but that’s okay. I had time to enjoy all the gifts the ocean and wetlands gave me.

Eww. Ocean foam.

More tomorrow!

Blow Me Away

The sun will come out tomorrow! Or later today, here in Belmena (a hamlet apparently nearby).

It’s time for a brief weather report. It’s windy. Very windy. Our windows are rattling and things are banging around outside. The wind chill makes it feel ten degrees colder. I agree with the profane weather app!

Horrible weather calls for horrible language. Note that this app believes I am in Burlington, a slightly larger hamlet than Belmena.

When you live in a big field, you really feel the wind. Plus, anecdotal evidence says it’s windier here than in many places. That’s based on long-term neighbor observations and our own careful study when we were siting our ranch house.

Finally! An app that says I’m in Silver City! That’s right, actually. It’s a nonexistent hamlet that used to be here.

We lived weekends in an RV, and Lee recorded the wind direction. Thus our house doesn’t face the road. It’s a little crooked.

And there is always a patio out of the wind, or in it, if that’s helping when it’s hot.

That’s an important ranch life principle, to get to know your microclimate!

Ever Wonder about Contrails?

I wonder where all these planes were going?

You may remember I’ve been enjoying sunrises lately. Much of this week I’ve been greeted by dense fog, but today dawned nice and sunny. However, the pretty pattern weren’t made by clouds; they were made by three jet contrails (condensation trails) fanning out above Mabry’s Ridge.

There’s no denying that the stripes, which are made by water particles affected by jet exhaust or their wings under certain circumstances, are pretty (they make nice sunsets, too), but I recalled that some people I’ve talked to have said they are contributing to climate change, or worse.

The idea is, I guess, that there are so many airplanes flying around our larger cities that they are increasing the cloud cover, with measurable consequences. I found a reasonable-sounding article that summed it up:

While contrails are thought to only have a minor impact on climate, their influence on daily temperature patterns is much more significant. As contrails spread and thin out to form contrail cirrus, they promote daytime cooling (their high albedo reflects incoming solar radiation back out into space) and warming at night (high, thin clouds absorb the Earth’s outgoing longwave radiation). The magnitude of this warming is thought to outweigh the effects of cooling.

Means, Tiffany. “Contrails: The Controversial Cloud.” ThoughtCo, Dec. 5, 2018, thoughtco.com/contrails-3443730.

Argh, these pretty clouds are at least contributing a little bit to global warming, if you believe in that.

On the other hand, there are people who believe the contrails are spreading chemicals on us, or some such nefarious acts. I couldn’t find much to back that up, though. Feel free to check out this Wikipedia article on the consipiracy, though. I think I’ll constrain my worries to the increased cloud cover and allow myself to enjoy the articifially enhanced skies.

Ain’t It Foggy Outside!

I had a post for yesterday, but I need an image from Austin, so it will have to wait. Instead, here’s a weather report!

Can’t see past the pond. I know there are cattle out there! Sorry for the screen.

There’s strange fog this morning. It was clear at sunrise. Lee said it was a glorious orange. (I slept through it.) But now it’s getting foggier and foggier. You can’t see the field across the road.

You can’t see the field across the road today. Yesterday the field shone like diamonds.

I’m guessing this is the rising temperatures and very damp soil are causing this rare midday fog. It’s definitely warmed up, and we’re enjoying a respite from yet another round of floods last week (you know it’s been wet when heavy flooding doesn’t even warrant a photo).

Speaking of weird weather

I wish my camera could have captured what greeted my eyes yesterday. Looking out the same front window you see above, I saw an intensely sunny morning. It had gotten cool enough to cause a heavy frost, which completely covered the field across the road, which has a cover crop a few inches high on it.

The sun was at just the right angle to make the frost shine like crystals. The result was an amazing shiny, sparkly field instead of green rye.

It wouldn’t photograph through the window screen, and it would not have looked the same from ground level, so it’s just a memory to savor for me, and something to imagine for you. Not a bad thing!

Cedar Fever. What the Heck.

We are in the middle of no one’s favorite season in the Hill Country of Texas, and that’s the “Cedar Fever” season. According to many news reports, this was supposed to be one of the worst seasons ever. If you’re reading from outside of Texas, you may be saying, “What the heck?”

If Anita and I WERE cedar fever sufferers, our front deck would be a scary place this time of year.

Lots of people call the tree found all along our hills Mountain Cedar, but it’s really Ashe Juniper. I first noticed them, like many new residents, during my first winter in the area. I was walking my baby around the neighborhood, which was still under construction, looking at all the limestone and stuff, when the tree in front of me started to smoke! I said some version of, “What the heck,” and called my La Leche League co-Leader (the only native Texan I knew) to ask her what was up. “Ah, the cedar is pollinating,” she told me.

This is what I saw when I was out walking in my neighborhood. Scary.

What is this plant? The Ashe Juniper has been around this area since before Europeans showed up, but it’s thought that they spread out of their native “cedar brakes” to take up more of the area once cattle showed up and messed with the delicate balance of native grasses and trees. Thanks, Euro-Americans.

Continue reading “Cedar Fever. What the Heck.”