Enjoying the Trees at the Bark Park

Georgetown’s Bark Park is just a wonderful place to spend some time with your favorite pooch. Each visit there I find folks who come all the way from Austin to enjoy its beauty. These photos were taken Saturday as a way to let area residents know the park will be closed February 18-22 while Georgetown Parks & Recreation take care of some needed renovations. One fellow who will miss going is a tree-climbing fellow called Stevie Ray Dog. That guy is amazing! Others included here are an English Bulldog, Stella, her little friend Chico, a 6-month-old French Bulldog, Dutchess, a beautiful Rottweiler and Gus, a Husky/Shepherd mix with some fantastic blue eyes. These were taken for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

A World-Class Artist in Small-Town Texas

Not long after coming home to Texas in Summer 2009, I got to know the area around Taylor, taking both long drives and bicycle treks around East Williamson County. One afternoon that stays firmly encased in my memory is arriving in Coupland, a ten-minute drive from Taylor. Taking a left off Texas Highway 95, I crested a hill. On the right was something magnificent. I felt as if I’d arrived in the small-town Texas version of Stonehenge. There before my eyes were these massive granite creations, some combining metal, firmly rooted in the Blackland Prairie soil. I’d arrived at the Huntington Sculpture Garden, created by Coupland’s Jim Huntington. A couple of years later, I briefly met the artist, but didn’t spend much time photographing him. Since I like to catch the action as it happens, it became a waiting game to catch Mr. Huntington at work. That happened recently, resulting in these photos taken for the Williamson County Sun. Jim lives in a sturdy metal building onsite. Since the sculptures weigh anywhere from 5,000 to over 10,000 pounds, he doesn’t have to worry much about someone running off with one. When a piece is done, he has a forklift handy to get that job done. And a young assistant helper nearby. Born in Elkhart, Indiana, Huntington recently turned 78. He’s lived a few places along the way, including Los Angeles, Boston, New York and San Francisco. While living in New York in the early-90s, he considered relocating south. Austin was ruled out when, even in 1994, he found the cost of living there prohibitive. Then he found Coupland, where he’s been since then. A few years ago, the inevitable advance of maturity presented him with arthritis. He’s still working, but hopes to scale back after finishing work on another 88,000 pounds of granite. Then, he says, he will probably continue the smaller pieces, but also try sketching and painting again. That’s how he started so long ago. He’s got a good website, which can be seen here. Years ago, he added the Huntington Sculpture Foundation, a non-profit that will assure his work will continue to be appreciated well beyond his time on the planet. My photos don’t even come close to representing his talent. You have to see it up close. Coupland’s easy to find. And you don’t have to fight traffic.

Getting Ready for Spring Planting

At first, Thursday evening rambling didn’t provide any inspirations. Then, driving east of Granger, a tractor caught my eye, a farmer’s field being readied for Spring planting. The sun’s rays were still harsh, but what I saw through my viewfinder looked pretty good. Not long after I began to take photos, the tractor came to a stop. I stayed for a few minutes, then moseyed north in search of other things. That setting, however, stayed with me. Before darkness set in, I turned back, taking a few more photos there after sunset. Here’s the thing, folks. A person with a camera can be intimidating. Did he stop because of me? Who knows? If you’re local, and you see me out there, the intentions are good. I’m glad I returned for the second image.

Let the Games Begin

As major league baseball gets ready to fire things up next week with the start of Spring Training, I recall photographing Little League baseball through the years. Always a small kid, I wasn’t a good fit for football, but baseball? Yeah, I could do that. These photos were taken in May and June 1975 in Shreveport, during my time at the Shreveport Journal, the best little newspaper on the planet at the time. The sports action photo of the little boy stretching to catch a fly is my favorite action shot of a very long time behind the lens. This post aligns with what I also place on Facebook for what you might call Throwback Thursday. It’s really just old stuff which happens to be posted on Thursday. Play ball.

Serenity on a Prairie Hill

Last July, our family veterinarian, Dr. Dana Boehm, mentioned a cemetery that might hold my interest. The Shiloh-McCutcheon Cemetery sits well out of the way of traffic, residing on a hill overlooking Blackland Prairie pastureland, not far from the banks of Brushy Creek. To get to it, you have to travel along a winding unpaved road before it ends at the burial site. Last weekend, on a cold and misty afternoon, I paid a second visit there. The photos included here are from that peaceful outing. A little history, perhaps? The Shiloh community formed in 1848, beginning with a couple of stores, soon adding a school, church and homes. Families back then naturally gravitated toward water sources. The first known burials at the cemetery were in 1853, well before it was officially a cemetery, in 1890. Among those buried here are veterans from the Texas Revolution, the Civil War and both World Wars. These days, only descendants can be interred here, as cremations. While I wandered through this quiet space, I noticed a car moving very quickly along the dirt road. If the driver was visiting a loved one, he/she was in a hurry! It turned out to be teens, looking for an out-of-the-way hideaway to smoke an illegal substance. I’m sure they saw the old dude wandering among the graves, but they paid me no mind. After a few minutes of fun, they tore right on out of there. Two grave stones near the end of this post caught my eye: infants born on the same month and day of my birth, also leaving the earth on the same day; and a grave where the date of death was listed as September 31st, a date that doesn’t exist.

There …. and Gone

I’m compelled to document the area where we live. It may mean nothing to anyone else, but it does to me. When possible, good aspects of our history needs to be preserved. Tonight, looking for another subject, I was driving through the North Williamson County community of Schwertner, Texas, a small place, less than 200. In January 2017, a drive took me through here, too. At that time, on Main Street, I discovered the two old buildings seen in this post. The Schwertner State Bank building was built in about 1910, Leatherman Drugs about then, too. Tonight, they were gone. I can’t tell you the reason, but it makes me sad. While we save bits of history with greater frequency, we also take it away. No other words this evening.

Night Scenes From the Park

When the mood isn’t right for using a lot of fossil fuel, I am lucky to have some very nice parks in Taylor, Texas. Bull Branch Park, a few blocks from home, is one of those. It’s nice during the daytime, but at night, it can really come alive. Oh, and I’m glad those ducks were cooperative for my long camera exposures. The one posted here was 15 seconds. The ducks were like statues. Thank you, ducks!

Misty Blues

When I’m in a blue mood, it’s not a bad thing. Blue is my favorite color. When it’s manifested on misty, foggy nights like this, it gives me good feelings. These three photos were made tonight within a hair’s breath of each other. Enjoy your night, too, friends.

Weather Isn’t an Issue With Anglers

A few weeks ago Texas Parks and Wildlife was scheduled to release over 1200 rainbow trout into the San Gabriel River water at Blue Hole Lagoon in Georgetown, Texas. For whatever reason, the release was postponed, but happened on Thursday. Today, when I was looking for something to document on a cold and misty Central Texas day, I remembered the new date. When arriving at Blue Hole, I found anglers focused on their task. The weather, hovering in the mid-30s, was not a factor. The trout I saw were kind of small, but the folks catching them didn’t seem to mind one bit. These photos were taken for my friends at the Williamson County Sun, a dedicated community newspaper.

A Few Moments in Beyersville

Beyersville, Texas. It’s a destination in the far reaches of southeastern Williamson County, Texas that I often yearn to see. The western part of my county is developed to the point that its character has been diminished. That’s happening on my side as well, but if you go far enough, you can find serenity. Here are three similar images, all taken from a favorite viewing spot in the community of Beyersville. If I mentioned where I was, you’d think me odd. That I am. But it works.