I remember seeing this ancient farmhouse when we moved back to Texas in 2009. It looked old and decrepit. It was my guess the place would soon sink into the earth, the wood consumed by the Blackland Prairie soil. It’s still here. Still covered in vines. These photos were made on a recent evening, the light golden and delicate. The opening photo is similar to others posted of it at different times of the year. During the summer months, those vines really take over. For this outing, I also stepped a little to the side, looking through a window into the house’s interior. The last photo was a complete surprise. I didn’t know about the barn, but it merited a few quick frames before the rich sunlight faded away. A few months ago, when stopping to look at the house one evening, I swear I saw a face in silhouette staring back at me. I remember snapping a frame, then making a hasty departure. A ghost? You never know. We didn’t chat.
Girl Scout cookies have arrived in Central Texas! Late this afternoon I joined a 9-year-old Girl Scout in Georgetown as she and her mom canvassed their neighborhood on the opening day of cookie sales. Both mom and daughter were equipped with face masks as they made their rounds on a cloud-filled day that sometimes produced drizzle. Yours truly purchased five boxes. They won’t be around long at our house! The good news? Cookie sales will continue here through February 28. There’s time to restock.
It was a mostly cloudy and wet day on the Blackland Prairie. Not that I’m complaining. We need the rain. Clouds can invoke a certain moodiness in photos, making normally-bright color a bit quieter. That’s okay, too.
MLK national holiday events in my area were virtual this year because of the ongoing pandemic. That’s sad, but understandable. One thing that happened today, however, was the Day of Service, coordinated by United Way of Williamson County. My destination was Georgetown’s Berry Springs Park & Preserve, one of my favorite places in this area. 30 volunteers were on hand this morning, doing their part to keep this wonderful place beautiful. Service was an integral part of Dr. King’s message. This morning’s volunteers get that.
Personal obligations make it difficult to get early-morning photos very often, but sometimes there’s an opportunity. I found myself at Taylor’s Murphy Park about 35 minutes ahead of sunrise, taking in the calm scenes on a quiet Sunday morning. The images here begin 30 minutes before sunrise. By the time the sun came up, I was done. And off to run errands.
This morning I headed to Georgetown’s Blue Hole Park for photos of a Youth Fishing Derby coordinated by Georgetown Parks & Recreation. Although geared for kids, adults were able to take part, too. The river was stocked on Friday evening with 1500 rainbow trout. Because of the continuing pandemic, participants this year have a virtual option. Thankfully, those there today were practicing social distancing pretty well. They can stop by the park any day from now until January 31, then email their trout catches to the parks department via a registration site, parks.georgetown.org/fishing-derby. I did, however find a few families there on the first day. The little girl in the first photos was a hoot! Her daddy had to do a bit of coaxing to hold onto that fish, but she was finally convinced, at least for a while. The other images are this and that. I watched as a man sought to untangle his line from a tree. When I inquired if he knew what kind of tree it was, he replied “a mean one!” One of the last photos made before leaving was a dad helping his son get his gear ready. I liked the blue hat a lot. That hat has a long history. It belonged to the little boy’s grandfather (dad’s father) who died last year. It’s nice to see a tradition passed on.
I wasn’t raised on a farm, but my mama was. When growing up in Texarkana (Texas, not Arkansas), we spent quite a lot of time at the farm of my great-uncle and great-aunt, brother and sister, siblings of my maternal grandfather. It was near Queen City, 16 miles south of where we lived. I remember Uncle Harry’s barns. When Harry’s brother, Carl (my grandfather) died, the home where mama was raised was empty. Since it was just a couple miles from his farm, Uncle Harry took on the task of dismantling my grandpa’s house, using the wood to build a barn on his farm. All this is to say that I have an affection for barns. The one offered here is short minutes from our home in Taylor. I’d passed it numerous times, wanting to photograph it, but didn’t have permission to go on the property. This wasn’t a barn I could document very well from the highway. One afternoon a few years ago, , I saw a couple gardening near the barn. I pulled into the driveway, asking if I could take photos. They readily agreed. For the past few years, I’ve stopped by when not disturbing the family. The old Chevy is still there. One image, a meat grinder inside the barn, is here just because I like it. Quite a few barns have been photographed since coming back to Texas. Sadly, some are gone. I document while I can.
January’s good winter light was on full display as I wandered around Southeast Williamson County, Texas last evening. Recent snow remains had mostly dried up, making this road a good one to traverse again. My county is growing fast. It’s nice to find a few quiet country roads.
Recently, I made one of my occasional Sunday drives to Llano, a community of around 3300 (according to the 2010 census) nestled in the Texas Hill Country about 65 miles northwest of Austin. According to the city’s website, Llano was founded in 1855, becoming the county seat the following year. Among the highlights of this short visit was seeing the Llano River. The town’s name means a “treeless grassy plain” although I saw quite a few nice trees. The town is well-known as the Deer Capital of Texas, attracting hunters from all over in November and December. I like the deer head carved out of a tree! Additionally, I like seeing the Llano News, going strong since 1889. Reflected in the newspaper’s front window is the Llano County Courthouse, opening in 1893. It’s survived fires in 1932 and 1952. Since the courthouse was closed, I took a photo through one of the doors. It looks elegant. The Lan-Tex Theater has a place on the. town square. I’m not sure how the pandemic has affected their business, but the marquis did list an upcoming musical act. Included here are a couple door closeups, a weathered-looking one at a downtown business. The other door, is a detail of Llano’s Grace Episcopal Church, holding services since 1888-1889. The vertical photo through a window was taken at what was once the Llano County Jail, built in 1895, now serving as a museum. I like the C.S. Lewis quote on the city’s sign, too. Good messaging, Llano.
While I know most of the roads in our area of the prairie, sometimes it’s fun to just venture down one not familiar. One of those came along tonight that took me into a lovely part of North Williamson County, a little north of Weir, where the first three photos were made. The post begins with the sunset, but only because that’s the type of image that gets the attention. The two photos that follow were taken scant minutes before sunset on the same road. Good evening light was in abundance. The last. photo tonight took me south of Weir, past a grain elevator I’ve seen for year, but haven’t bothered with it much because of the dang power lines. The skies behind it, however, caused a change of heart, power lines or not. Just a night of exploration along the Blackland Prairie, friends.