Rainy Day? OK!

Today’s UU Lent word is rain. Let’s see if it’s as unpopular as “reach” was (yesterday was my lowest number of blog visitors in a LONG time). It’s all good, though, that’s the least of my worried! As for rain…

Rainy morning this morning in a strangely empty Round Rock, Texas. Photo by Amy Mathews-Muttwill, whose husband Thomas has a birthday today, so she was going to get donuts.

It’s been raining a lot for the past month or so. Here in the middle of Texas, we hope that happens every spring, so the tanks (ponds) fill up and the creeks flow for a while. The trees get their yearly long drink of water, and everything gets ready for two or three months of no rain come summer.

I spotted all these raindrops yesterday. I like them as much as “old greenbeans” (who is really Elaine) does.

Last year was the wettest year Lee ever recorded in our gauge, until the rain totally stopped for quite a while. We’ve learned to enjoy the intense green and all the wildflowers in March and April, then to have a different kind of enjoyment as it gets all brown and crispy later.

When it rains this much, I’m okay with it stopping. This is Walker’s Creek by the ranch doing its imitation of a river, April 11 2018 (the day I started this blog). Waterfront living at its finest.

I Like Rain

Lee and I used to always say, “I like rain,” to each other, after we said it at the same time early in our courtship. It was a bonding moment. I have one of those personalities that would be fine living in a damp environment, like Seattle or Ireland. Back when I had Irish inlaws, they’d apologize for the rain there, but it was mostly a light drizzle that made all the roses grow and kept the fields green. I loved it.

Rainbow in Northern Ireland. This is the kind of sight I remember from further south. Image by @joemelendez via Twenty20

And when it rains a lot, there’s always a chance of a beautiful rainbow! When the kids were little and we’d drive all over Ireland, we saw some doozies in places like the Dingle Peninsula. Good memories!

When I was a kid in Gainesville, Florida, we’d love it after tropical storms came through. We would have really big puddles and lots of water in the ditches in front of our yards. We’d get pieces of plywood and spend hours skimming in the water. Our parents would repeatedly tell us there were bad things in the water, but hey, a little ringworm was a small price to pay for all that fun.

Nope, none of these ever wandered up the ditches in Gainesville. We had a canal behind our house in south Florida, though, and it featured gators and water moccasins and such.

In high school, I lived in south Florida (Plantation, yeah I know it’s a dumb name for a town). There it also rained a lot. The typical pattern was to be all nice and sunny until later afternoon, when thunderstorms would come through for an hour or two. That always coincided with the time that 70s teen girls wanted to lay out in their bikinis and get their suntans. Probably it was Nature’s way of trying to prevent our future wrinkles and skin cancers. That rain was always warm, and if it wasn’t thundering, we’d often stay in the pool and enjoy the rain there (almost everyone had a pool back then, even the lower-middle class families like us).

A familiar sight from when I was a teen. You’d watch the rain coming down the street. Image by @cr819081 via Twenty20

No wonder I like rain. I have no idea where all those memories came from, but since I typed them, I’ll leave them here. It’s nice to think about good times in the past, anyway. It’s a good distraction.

Penney loves her little pond, which is all full thanks to the rain for the past few weeks.

So, go ahead! Share your memories about rain. Are you like Pickle, Anita’s dog, who truly loathes rain and wetness? Or are you more like Penney, who is grateful rain makes her swimming hole bigger?

Aftermath

This is just a brief note to let you all know that, after my undignified fall, I got through yesterday okay and am okay today so far. I am just stiff and sore. I am proud to say that by walking slowly around the house during a couple of phone calls, I managed to keep my streak of hitting my movement goal going, so now it’s up to 154 days. I’m glad that once I’m actually up, walking is fine. I actually got in more steps yesterday than the day before, but they sure weren’t brisk after I went BOOM.

I was proud of myself when I hit the goal.

Now that I am older, it takes longer to recover from falls and such. Actually, falling makes me feel old, but I would have fallen where I was yesterday at any age. I’m just going to make the most of it and pay attention to where the hurt is each day.

For example, yesterday my chest muscles hurt so badly that I honestly didn’t notice anything else. Who knows how falling on my back strained them, but it sure did. Today, though, my shoulders and upper back are reminding me that I fell on them, and my upper leg is tender. Interestingly, my arms now hurt from trying to break the fall. It’s not bad, but it’s THERE.

And I realize I hit my head, thanks to the headache and bruising back there. I haven’t had any “concussion protocol” symptoms (thanks to American football on television, I know what they are), so I am pretty sure I will heal fine.

Since it is still raining hard, I have been sure to put on sturdy shoes today. We’re grateful for that rain!

That looks a heck of a lot better. Photo by Chris.

I’m grateful that I don’t see any bruising anywhere, though I’m surprised, knowing how hard I hit the deck. (Ha ha, I literally hit the deck.) You just never know what the effect of an incident will be! I hope there are no lingering symptoms, like the ankle that still occasionally hurts from when Carlton pulled me down the hill as a puppy. THAT incident produced a LOT of colorful bruising.

But, I am not hurt badly, so don’t worry about me. I’ll be back to other topics now, like renovation progress. I was so happy to see that they scraped all the paint smears off the stained glass over the front door. It will look so good once everything is cleaned and re-painted (carefully).

Mother Nature Had the Sniffles

Yesterday’s big plans got thwarted, because it kept threatening to rain all day. Mostly it just drizzled, which made me think Nature has the same thing so many of my friends have that makes them all sniffly. It never rained hard until the evening, when we were sitting in the hot tub talking to random fellow guests.

What this meant is that we had to cancel our boat outing around the Pinkney Island preserve. But, we talked to Scott the Boat Guy, and are going to try to do it later this morning. It appears dry outside.

All the moisture makes decay happen quickly and beautifully.

We did manage a quick outing to the Audubon Preserve, where last year I saw a zillion birds, but had no binoculars. This year, yes to binoculars, but no to birds.

The pond was beautiful, even in the drizzle.

I really do appreciate the efforts the group has made to label so many of the plants. They have a very nice brochure that talks about all the different mini-ecosystems in the park and what grows there. It’s also where I learned about the original topography of the area, with high ups and downs of boggy spaces and higher land with trees. It’s not like that where all the houses are now.

This pitcher plant was hiding behind its label.
Continue reading “Mother Nature Had the Sniffles”

Now, That’s Nature: Post Oaks Plus

It has rained so much the past few days that it feels like I live at a mosquito farm. Everywhere I go I’ve been eaten up, though the barn swallows are trying to keep up with them at the ranch.

“Lake Travis” in Cameron. Photo by Martha Nethers.

Martha says that our old office on Travis is now located at “Lake Travis.” Birds love to bathe in it, but they can’t enjoy their lovely patio at the moment. (By the way, they recently saw a mother opossum and all her babies on her back–sure with I had a photo!)

Sink spider

The rains have also driven a lot of things indoors. A group of wolf spiders is hanging out in the kitchen of the old church building. I hope they scoot back out before the pest control dudes come!

Continue reading “Now, That’s Nature: Post Oaks Plus”

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!

Weather: Why I Started This Blog

The dogs do like it when the runoff becomes a stream.

Did you know I originally intended to mostly write about the weather and flowers in this blog? I guess it’s taken off a life of its own, where I share whatever I’ve been pondering at any time.

The driveway puddled up impressively, but it’s already getting better since the rain let up.

But weather! Yes! We’ve had 2.25 inches of rain in the past two days, which means that yet again, we have lakefront property and a raging stream.

At least Walker’s Creek didn’t come over the bridge, though the neighbor kids’ school bus got stuck yesterday and they had to bring in another bus. At this moment, I can see the creek from my desk window, a thing that only happens w hen it the trees have lost their leaves AND there is a flood.

The rain means even big old Alfred comes inside. He didn’t bother our houseguest, Matt, at all.

This year’s been a big one for flooding. I hope it doesn’t get too much wetter over a number of years, or we won’t be semi-arid anymore and different plants will thrive. I’ll be here watching if it does.

If It’s Not Drought, It’s Flooding

img_4914
You can see more water behind the main pond.  Before everything grew up while that part of the pond was dry, it was all one view of water. The driveway you see is the dam that made the pond.

The weather patterns here in Milam County have been a topic of my blog posts and Facebook rants for as long as we’ve been coming out here (and our first visit was in 2010 or 2011). This year has been a great example.

This year, we had a very wet spring, followed by over a month of no rain in summer, with large cracks developing in the ground and very brown foliage. We were worrying that the ponds would evaporate again like they did in the Big Drought of 2011.

img_4912
Most of the time, this is just grass. Once the pond is full, runoff usually makes a little stream that goes to the deep area where there was an old spring that used to be the beginning of the real stream. I’m wondering if our springs will come back at some point.

Quickly, this condition was followed by what has seemed to be never-ending dampness and mild weather all through the autumn. We’ll have a few nice days, and then the sky opens up again.

I was happy that the Master Naturalist Conference coincided with a break in the weather so we could do all our field trips, but right after that, it’s been dark and wet again. My Geometry post has images of the fog in Austin from this week; in fact, three days in a row there was enough fog to make driving a bit scary.

img_4913
This culvert is intended to keep the pond from overfilling and washing away the dam. Since it overfilled a couple of times, we now also have a back-up culvert. It’s engaged once this year.

Here at the Hermits’ Rest it was just as foggy, and there was a lot more rain than in Austin. When I arrived to the ranch yesterday, it had just rained a lot, and Walker’s Creek was at the top of its banks. The arroyo was flowing away, and the dogs had a blast running through the output of the dam culvert.

Last night, just as we went to bed, another downpour began. There was .8″ over night, which made almost two inches in 24 hours.

img_4904
That sliver of water to the left of the driveway just before the gate usually can’t be seen from the house (by short people like me, anyway).

Usually you can’t see the front pond from the house, because the water level is too low. This view through the second-floor window (and screen) shows you it was visible this morning!

img_4903
Don’t the screens and the blinds add an air of mystery to the very full back pond? I usually doesn’t go all the way to that black thing at right (which is an old well or something).

The back pond had even spread farther to the east than usual.

img_4915
View from the car. The creek is usually about ten feet wide. It’s been lots worse, though.

And the creek was flowing into the flood plain meadow. I tell you what, I am glad to be enjoying some sunshine this afternoon as I take a break from work to type this! Maybe the ground will be a little less soggy when I head out to feed animals.

Looking Forward to a Master Naturalist Weekend

I’m all a-twitter about getting to go to my first Texas Master Naturalist conference in Georgetown this weekend. I’ll get to spend time with my friends from the El Camino Real chapter, and meet lots of new and interesting folks, I hope.

snail
Hey look, a land snail! I find them fascinating!

I made Anita laugh a lot when I got so excited about an email last night that I had to run downstairs to ACT on it. What was it? Why, it was a notice that a spot had opened up in the session on “The Land Snails of Texas.” I have NO idea why she thought my excitement was sort of hilarious. I really want to know more about those snails I see everywhere, especially on the walls of the Dutchtowne Cafe in Cameron.

Of course, snails aren’t ALL I’m looking forward to. I also get to go look at a cave in the neighborhood where I used to live, the Brushy Creek/Avery Ranch area that straddles Austin, Cedar Park, and Round Rock. We always knew there were caves in the limestone below the area, but when one collapsed recently, it became big news (the article I link to here has lots of cool pictures of the cave before it got all cemented up)! The one we are going to look at is NOT directly under any houses, and is apparently a good size. I love the karst and limestone, I guess because I lived on it for 20 years.

You readers will like that I am going to two sessions on taking better photos of plants and wildlife. I hope to learn some iPhone techniques and to take good notes on what I can do when I get my other camera going.

I’ll share more of what I learn in the coming days.

rain2
It’s dreary in north Austin today, but at least I have my reminders to breathe and exhale. And happy plants.

And as for the weather

It’s all rainy AGAIN. Austin has been under a boil order since Monday, which is a pain, but it’s not like we were hit by a tornado or hurricane or anything. The hope is that clearing will happen for the weekend and all the outdoor activities. There’s a real good chance!

At least it’s cooled off and we’ve enjoyed 50s and 60s outside for the last couple of days. That’s nice. Ahhh.

 

Solstice Greetings (and Weather)

bobcat
It’s the Austin house (Bobcat Lair) showing lovely dark rain clouds. Ah.

It’s the longest day of the year, and from what I hear, the most fun holiday in Sweden. So, happy solstice, midsummer, or whatever you’re enjoying today.

Since rain in summer is so rare in these parts, I’m happy to report that it rained for three days in both Austin and Cameron this week. It wasn’t the flooding that happened on the Texas coast, but it was enough to help out the plants and at least slow the evaporation of the ponds/tanks at the ranch.

If you look carefully at this photo from yesterday of the pond behind the Hermits’ Rest house, you will see a lot of black around the edges. That’s where the water line has gone down. On the shallow edge of this one, it’s retreated at least six feet. The rain wasn’t enough to cause runoff, which is what fills the ponds, but at least an inch went in from direct rain.

tank
It’s dry, but could be lots worse. Notice at upper right there are some vultures riding the currents.

We still think it will be a long, dry summer. The heat already took care of most of my crops, but I think I’ll have some okra!

Tomorrow there will be a post about a marathon of citizen science I did yesterday, so stay tuned for more nature fun.