Our Texas weather can change in no time flat, particularly when what passes for winter sets in. Saturday afternoon, a cold and cloudy day, I took a drive through the community of Noack, in Southeast Williamson County. Despite the county’s rapid growth, Noack (so far) has kept its calm persona. Since the subjects were almost monotones anyway, let’s go with black-and-white treatment, shall we? Included: Christ Lutheran Church, a congregation in the area for 125 years; an old shack, or maybe a barn, overtaken by growth; a farmer uses his tractor to haul a horse trailer; finally, grain elevators, fronted by a generous helping of Blackland Prairie soil.
After a night of heavy rain leaving a few fields saturated, the sun returned to our Blackland Prairie today, this last day of 2018. Never mind fireworks. The skies where we live provided their own luster. I hope your new year brings you peace and joy, friends.
It rained quite a bit this evening in Taylor, Texas. And it was (for us, anyway) pretty dang cold. I started to forego any photos tonight, but ended up at two of our parks, Murphy and Bull Branch. Here are a few of those efforts.
Paying work is slow at this time of the year. Beginning around Halloween things get quite busy. It remains so through Christmas. And then things slow down. Perhaps that should be a concern, but it’s not. There’s more time to ramble. On a recent Friday night, I came on two scenes worthy of photos. Seeing a cotton field in late-December seems odd, but there it was, a little east of Weir, Texas. It looks neglected. The other photo, a bit west of Granger, was a field I found enchanting. After finishing the photos, I noticed a sign ahead, letting passersby know this 28-plus acres is for sale. My hope, for what it’s worth? That a developer doesn’t transform this piece of Blackland Prairie into a subdivision.
Getting up early is really nothing new. Lucy, our cat, and Star, our dog, make it clear when it’s time to get rolling. However, to get up, get dressed and head out the door well before sunrise? That can be challenging. Age has its rewards, but muscles, bones and joints don’t always relish quick starts. These photos were taken last Sunday morning. The pets were fed, my wife was sleeping soundly. Out the door I went. The first stop, thirty minutes ahead of sunrise, was at a spot overlooking the San Gabriel River. Have I mentioned just how much I adore that body of water? It’s nice. The second photo, with a field of hay bales, was kind of exciting. It was maybe 15 minutes ahead of dawn, but the sky was magnificent. A photo or two was made without any point of reference. Along came the hay bales and I knew it was just right. These early-morning skies don’t stay that way very long. This one last maybe 7-8 minutes. As I rambled along, the sunrise imminent, a good hill, and a couple of trees were a good spot to usher in the sunrise. The final image, taken perhaps 15 minutes past sunrise, includes a Waning Gibbous moon, not quite full, but close, as it neared moonset on a serene and elegant Sunday morning.
A few weeks ago I took photos of a kids’ fishing contest at Georgetown’s Garey Park on a cold December morning. In looking for something similar, I came across photos taken in August 1982 at Sweetwater Creek State Park, in Douglas County, Georgia, about 20 miles west of downtown Atlanta. The differences? While for one thing, these were summer photos. Also, the fashions of the period probably date these, too. But the similarities are more important. Despite a 36-year difference, it’s still fishing. It’s still kids being outside, not in front of electronic devices, spending time with parents and grandparents. The Atlanta Journal & Constitution was a big-city newspaper, but they allowed me to pursue the things I thought important, too. People might tend to want to refer to these images as “cute,” but really, it was, and is, about covering the slices of life we all see. The freckle-faced boy in the opening photo sums it up nicely.
A few scenes from ramblings on a stormy night on the prairie. This post is mostly about the trees I like along a certain road. That opening photo also includes a horse I’ve visited with a time or two. The second and third photos are variations from the same pasture. My preference might be the lone tree. Except for the pastures, the photos could be black-and-white. The final image? Just a vehicle motoring along a long stretch of highway outside Walburg, Texas.
Christmas morning began by feeding Lucy, our cat, and Star, our dog, before settling in with a cup of coffee and a book. Since ours is home without small children, we take a restful, low-key approach to the holiday. My wife would catch up on our sleep. But then I remembered the weather forecast calling for fog on Christmas morning. Sure enough, peeking out my window after that first cup of coffee, there was a wondrous blanket of fog! I love fog. It defines and simplifies many scenes. After that peek, I grabbed the cameras and headed out for photos. The results are what you see here, including Taylor’s Murphy Park and a few scenes along the Blackland Prairie farm country. God’s country.
With no plan tonight, my cameras and I stopped in Norman’s Crossing. It’s been a while since I paid a visit to some very affectionate horses pastured behind the Norman’s Crossing Community Center, also home to Brushy Creek Baptist Church. While enjoying time with the horses, folks began to arrive at the church. Of course. This was the night for a Christmas Eve service. For a while, I observed this through the windows, but kept my eyes on those beautiful horses, too. About two years ago, on one of my wanderings, I met these horses. The building, however, didn’t look like any kind of church structure I’d known. Some research provided the answer. This church began its life as a one-room schoolhouse. This led me to Jock Norman, a grandson of the community’s founder, then in his early-90s. Jock had a set of keys to the community center. “They (the church) rent the space from the community center,” explained Jock. It’s no longer a school, but it has purpose. As do those wonderful horses. Happy Christmas.
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of the moon. I don’t need to give a special name to any phase in order to make them special. They’re all special, from the tiniest sliver of a new moon right up to a full blast of lunar presence. This week, however, I watched it over a four-night period. The photos, top to bottom, are in order of the night they were taken, beginning Wednesday and concluding Saturday night. In the windmill image, the moon was in a Waxing Gibbous phase, at 91.3% visibility. The next three photos were taken Thursday night. The grain elevators are in the heart of Taylor, at Williamson County Grain. From there, I wandered to Coupland, where the moon shone brightly above St. Peter’s Church of Coupland, built in 1905 and 1906. Thursday’s phase, also Waxing Gibbous, was at 96.4% visibility. On Friday, I spent time in Rockdale, concluding my evening at the town’s newest park, Bridge Park, where two vintage bridges adorn this Milam County town. The bridge with all those wonderful lights will glow like this throughout the year, not just at Christmas. The color scheme, however, will vary. Friday’s moon phase: Waxing Gibbous, 99.2% visibility. Before moving onto the last two photos, taken Saturday night in Georgetown, I might add that actual 100% visibility was achieved before noon on this day, making it, of course, unseeable. The final two photos, with some clouds I really enjoyed seeing, picture the moon in a Waning Gibbous phase, at 99.6% visibility. Close enough for me, folks. I tossed in the last one since people seem to like closeups. Me? I like to give that disc a little space.