Category Archives: photo muses

Spring Has Sprung…Fully

We had a “cool” front blow through here this morning…Cool is now at 71° and rising. The front brought an hour or so of rain and then clear blue sky.

The real sign of spring though is the cardinals, you know…Red birds chasing other red birds out of their perceived territory. When the cardinals start enforcing territory rights you know spring has hit. It doesn’t matter if the wildflowers have come and gone, or the trees have leafed out. Once the little red birds start chasing each other around the yard while their lady friends sit and watch, spring is really here.

The way you can really tell that spring is here is I just put my riding lawnmower in the shop. Why is it that the only time the mower manifests it’s desire to forestall my using it for what it was designed for is in the spring time as the yard begins to look like an unmade bed for the fourth morning in a row? Even while I enjoy the look of the back pasture (for lack of another term) all decorated in wildflowers (weeds to the uninitiated, or my wife), the family draws the line on the front yard being filled with dandelions and nettles and other uncivilized versions of flowering plants. So as anyone who has lived in the coastal south will tell you, once the grass starts growing in the spring you better keep on top of it or you will never catch up until the heat of summer kills everything (if you are lucky) or a tropical storm waters everything so deeply that you can look behind the mower and watch the grass grow as you cut it back. In those summers you need a gas tank truck following you around in circles as you keep the mower moving 16 hours a day…And it’s only just April?

This is a buttercup spring. Most of the roads in this area are bordered right now with the pastel colors of buttercups. Pinks and whites and an occasional blue…Miles and miles of the little pollen cups. You know the ones I am talking about right? Didn’t you ever as a kid pick a buttercup and offer it for someone to smell before you rubbed the pollen all over their nose? You know you did…Don’t try and deny it.

What We Call Buttercups

Road Trip Thoughts

Yesterday was my Annual Birthday Beach and Road Trip…This year the weather was more springlike than any of my past trips. Temperatures hit the mid 70’s and it was quite breezy, with clouds scudding across the sun of and on.

My first stop as always was the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge for the past few years has been low on water and this year was the lowest I have seen yet. Very few waterfowl were in the refuge. For a refuge that is supposed to be swampy and a winter home for waterfowl it’s beginning to look more like coastal prairie each year.

After driving the full loop and sitting for a while watching a small group of Rosette Spoonbills while taking my birthday call from my mom I headed south to Surfside…

With the wind blowing strongly from the south, visibility was cut short by spray and sand in both directions. Driving down the beach was depressing with all of the damage visible to the beach houses I passed. There were signs of reconstruction and repair on about half (I didn’t count, just a general observation) of the houses I passed.

Since I hadn’t been to Galveston since Ike, I decided to drive the coast road to the Island. I had heard the road was in sad shape but when you come to a sign warning you that you drive the road at your own risk, you begin to wonder what you’ve let yourself in for…I lost count of the number of times the road dodged washouts on gravel added to the side of the old road. But when the road detoured to the beach for a mile or so you begin to understand it will be a while before this road gets rebuilt…Crossing over the San Luis Pass toll bridge was a nice surprise, there was no one in the booth collecting the $2 toll.

The west end of Galveston Island is mostly new construction and seemed to come through with relatively little damage. Traveling east though, as you passed through the older developments that date back to the 60’s or earlier you begin to see more and more damage. Mostly the southeast side of the houses were peeled of their siding and roofs…Damage almost 100%…It has been a few years since I traveled this part of the island, but, it seemed there were more holes in the landscape than in years past…I don’t know if these were houses completely gone or not…

Galveston itself looked not much different than it ever has until you start to look closer…That’s when you start to notice that most of the houses you are passing are in the process of being rebuilt on the interior…House after house after house. The old Victorian Ladies in the historical district appeared to have weathered the storm better than the newer ranches further out.

Through this all, I couldn’t bring myself to document the damage with my camera…It was enough just to see what was what…So on I drove. All the way around the island…through the Strand…Along Broadway…And finally over the new Causeway…And here was where the totality of the destruction hit me…Back when I first got my digital camera I did a Sunday morning run to the island before sunup. I spotted a road right on the bay on the mainland end of the Causeway and took a series of sunrise shots from the railroad bridge…of to the north of my spot was a line of bay cabins that looked like they had been there for decades…Not a single one of those cabin/houses survived…And so the trip went…

A sad end to my road trip…