Friday, October 28, 2011

An autumn walk

Earlier this week my daughter (home sick from school - but not too sick!) and I set off to explore a dirt road that runs along our property, as part of This Grandmother's Garden's Autumn Walk Challenge. I've been wanting to traipse this road, and now I have a good excuse. 

Technically, we are trespassing, which makes my daughter very nervous. The road is an easement  to which we do not have access. But it washed out from flooding a year ago, and we very rarely see a vehicle navigating it. I'm sure the owners would not notice or mind two intrepid explorers.

We crawl through our rickety bobwire fence to embark on our expedition. My daughter immediately spies these copper-colored rocks amid the usual limestone. The nice thing about walking with a child is that she has sharp eyes for things on the ground . . . 
We head down the hill, where water drains across a low in big storms. I promptly slip on loose dirt and land - oh, so gracefully - on my rump. Only my pride injured, we continue on.

The ravages of drought (summer of 2009 and current) are quite evident. Up on top of the hill, live oak skeletons jut above dead or stressed Ashe junipers. I'm betting if the junipers are this color, they are goners. Fall color, Texas-style!

We spy this field of rocks to our left. I'd like to come up with some clever play on "Field of Dreams" but I just don't have it in me today. I will say that we grow great rocks here in Hays County. It's our best crop.

All too soon we arrive at this locked gate. I figure two locks are a pretty strong indicator that the owner is not interested in receiving visitors. We turn around.

My daughter points out the Ashe juniper berries, which are a lovely shade of blue. I in turn admire the interesting texture and color of some live oak deadfall.

Iris the dog leads the way. The road is dotted with cowpies left by Henrietta (do you remember her? She has been wandering loose on this road recently).

We pass by our property heading south toward Henrietta's home pasture, admiring our next door neighbors' well-tended, cross-fenced property - a sharp contrast to our place where nature reigns supreme. Down the way, we note the broken fence Henrietta has repurposed as a gate. 

Some might consider our next discovery gruesome, but we think it is our most interesting find: a coyote carcass. We hear coyotes frequently, but see them never. This carcass is quite desiccated and not too stinky. I suspect it may have been shot by Henrietta's owners and hung on the fence as a warning to its pack mates. "Keep out!!"
A short way past this treasure, some cattle panels have been rigged to block the road. My guess is that this was done to keep Henrietta from reaching the county road (in lieu of fixing the fence!). We turn around again.

At the corner of our property and the well-tended neighbors' is a small gap that we decide to use to get back home, just for fun. My daughter is convinced that I won't be able to squeeze through, but I do. She, of course, has no trouble.

The original purpose of this walk was to find fall color, so we track down one fall-blooming wildflower we both adore:  wood-sorrel (Oxalis Drummondii). Nearby, we spy what we think are Texas bluebonnet seedlings, germinated after our recent rains. 

Home again, two happy girls after a lovely autumn walk.


  1. What fun you've had with your darling daughter... thanks for letting us come along!

  2. Susz jednak poczyniła wielkie spustoszenia. Smutno na to patrzeć. Dobrze, że chociaż trochę kolorowego było.Pozdrawiam

  3. Great walk! I loved seeing the countryside. Texas has such diverse landscape, I love seeing all different parts of it. I feel sorry for that coyote. With the drought here, we are seeing them closer and closer to the house. They are looking for water, and their prey have gone, also looking for water. It's a hard time for all wild critters. Love those rocks! I would have to use some of those in the garden!

  4. Really lovely! I, too, saw a bluebonnet seedling on a recent walk. It was in a particularly inhospitable place and a good distance from any previous bluebonnet sites in those woods. A little optimist!
    This piece reminds me of some of my favorite children's books on the parent,child nature walk theme.

  5. I agree with Holley, those rocks look like raised beds or walls to me. I saw a coyote just yesterday, at the side of a busy road that crosses farmland. (He looked very healthy, and wise about the cars.) Pretty juniper berries-- your daughter clearly has the garden gene!

  6. Looks like a nice walk. Out on a walk the other day here, we saw a couple deer carcasses. Those are sad.

    Glad Bluebonnets are coming up. We don't see any here. I planted some year before last. Some came bloomed. Then, the deer chomped it. They're just impossible here.

    We take 170 as a shortcut over to MOPAC. It's an interesting, but winding road. Lots of things growing along the way. A whole stand of Beautyberry at one turn close to the winery.

    And, yes...we grow lots of rocks over here, too.

  7. @Carolyn - she is fun, and glad you came!

    @Giga - my translation was rough, but yes, the drought is terrible. Makes it hard to enjoy those colors!

    @HG and linnie - we use a whole lot of rocks in our landscaping - free and plentiful. I do love listening to those coyotes at night!

    @Lona - thanks, dear friend! Only time will tell if these seedlings will bloom, with weather forecasts so dire.

    @Linda - How frustrating those deer seem to be in your neighborhood. I planted a whole bag of wildflower seeds last October - sigh. I have not driven 170 lately, but I love it - especially that short part overhung with trees.

  8. Goodness me a properly droughted landscape, dead dog and all. I looked at 2 autumn walks on Blotanical this morning - yours and Scotland......could not be more different.

  9. @catharine - I need to check out Scotland!

  10. Dude, that dead coyote was freaky. Would not want to run into him on a dark night.