Exploring the Wild Violet

Today was just the best day I’ve had in quite a while. As if finding the eggs wasn’t enough, I got to explore a new place, and wow, I found some mighty fine bits of nature!

Spoiler alert.

My friend Pamela had told me she’s seen fresh evidence of beavers on her property, which isn’t far from the Hermits’ Rest. I talked my way into an invitation to go check them out this afternoon after work. I put on cowboy boots and headed with her and Ruby the hound over to the spring-fed stream out at the edge of the hay fields.

It’s a pretty place.

The stream eventually goes to Big Elm Creek, but until it gets there it wanders around.

Near the start of the stream, which is on another property.

We set off to find beavers. There was definitely evidence of beaver activity, such as holes heading to the water and chewed saplings. But the first brush pile we looked at turned out to be a logjam, not animal work.

We enjoyed looking at plants and flowers until we got a little further down. You could see THIS was a beaver dam. It had lots of mud, sticks piled carefully, and entrance holes. We were happy! I took pictures of the holes, but to be honest, holes don’t photograph well.

All the water flows through one little area. How cool. Anyway we kept going, looking at dewberries and wild garlic and such.

Bugs, too!

We were enchanted by these very shiny, small primroses neither of us recognized. Maybe it’s an early buttercup? They are exquisite!

Then, as I trudged along the bank of the stream, I glimpsed purple. I squealed and said a curse word, but from happiness. I found violets! Wild violets!

Oh, my dear friends!

I’ve loved violets my whole life, and have missed them here. As we looked carefully, Pamela and I saw more and more. She was as delighted as I was, and we just had the best time spotting them.

Next, I got all excited to see cute little frogs and some minnows. Always good to see waterways alive with life!

Suddenly I saw a…thing. A big thing. Was it a fish, a salamander, or what? I yelled for Pamela to come see this huge thing.

Uh. It’s a…

Finally I figured out it was a dead frog, the biggest frog I ever saw in the wild (and I’ve seen those cane toads).

Not a great photo, but it was hard to get to.

Judging from its yellow throat, I’m guessing it’s a male bullfrog. It must have died of old age! I took a photo with Ruby in it to show the size. Ruby is a hound dog, not small at all.

Large.

After that, everything else was less dramatic, though we enjoyed the moss and other water-loving plants. We decided to name the little body of water Wild Violet Creek. Now it has a name!

Wild Violet Creek

I ended up going all the way to the back of Pamela’s property, where there’s a nice pool. Some short-horned cows came to see if I had any food.

Food, please.

I just ran around like a little kid taking in all the space, the hay fields, trees with woodpecker holes, and a very brisk wind. I didn’t mind. It was such a beautiful spring day!

Land spreading out so far and wide!

The water, woods, trees, and flowers washed away all the stress of the previous few days. Everyone needs access to something like this.

Peace, quiet, and beauty in the middle of Texas.

I hope you can find some springtime natural inspiration wherever you are. And maybe a giant frog or some violets.

Slowly Trudging across the USA

Whew! I have a hint for you: don’t travel east the day the time springs forward, especially with someone who’s a slow starter in the morning. Today has been long, and we’re still 2 hours from our destination for the night. Vacations are fun!

We took the northern route, via I40. It’s mostly under construction. Lots of stopping next to big trucks. I’m very glad I’m a patient traveler.

Plums. Or pears.

I’ve enjoyed the scenery a lot. Much of yesterday I looked at so many beautiful wild plums. Or pears? I didn’t get close enough. Maybe it was both. They bloom such a short period of time, I felt lucky.

More plums. Or pears.

At the Arkansas welcome station I got to see pretty pansies, too.

Pansies just make me happy.

The best scenery, though, were dogs up for adoption we saw when we stopped for lunch. I got lots of great ideas for MTOL there. They had a storefront donated to them so adoption days are good in all weather. And they have their own van.

Pet adoption.
Puppies!

Today all the trees were pink or red. I think it’s red maples. They are subtle but beautiful in the sun.

Hard to see but that’s them.

The worst part of today was driving through the area east of Nashville, Tennessee. The tornado damage from last week’s huge storms went on for miles. I’ve seen a lot, and this is the most damage I’ve ever seen from one system. I couldn’t bear to take pictures; I felt so sad for the people there.

Violet and teeny field pansies

The Tennessee welcome station had a river, violets, and tiny field pansies. I love both of those!

Rest stop view. Nice.

Then came all the slowdowns. At least the last one was in the middle of the mountains, and I could roll down the windows and listen to the river rapids.

Roadside rapids.

It just goes to show you that even traffic jams can be interesting. It’s all in your attitude!

More field pansies. I like them