It’s likely I spend too much time and effort zeroing in on windmills, but they’re such rich subject matter. Most of them, unless they’re beat up, missing blades, etc, look pretty much alike, but like skyscrapers in cities, it’s what you include with them. For instance, consider this evening. The Texas sky was incredible, even for Texas. Add a pickup truck or two on a dirt road, kicking up the prairie dust, and it all seems to come together. The first three are the same windmill. The fourth is one I’ve photographed quite a few times, but each time it takes on a different persona. Windmills, like their neighbors, grain elevators, are country skyscrapers.
Tonight’s photos were all taken at Taylor’s Bull Branch Park on three different evenings, tonight included. Autumn color was the intended theme, but as you can see, it’s not all about the color. Mood counts, too. This park is only a half mile from our home. While I am enriched by the land and skies here on the Blackland Prairie, it’s nice to have this lovely space to clear my senses just up the road a piece.
These two photos were taken on the cloudy evening before Thanksgiving at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Wuthrich Hill, Texas. Because the trees are growing taller on the side photographed so many times, this is a look from the other side, including the parsonage and some very nice cloud patterns. As day finally faded into evening, it was nice to watch the light dance through the limbs of the tree in front of the church. Since time wasn’t an issue, the tripod was used for the tree image. This is one of those places that gives me visual energy when it’s needed most.
It’s getting into a busy season, but it’s mostly good things happening in front of my lenses. One I’ve been fortunate to cover for the past few years for the Williamson County Sun is the Lighting of the Square in Georgetown, Texas. This Central Texas community bills itself as the “Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas.” While I can’t verify that, let me assure you, friends, it is filled with wonder throughout the year. I can’t imagine any town square, anywhere, more wonderful. These are photos taken Friday night, just my impressions. We need joy right now, more than ever. The holiday season is a good time to set aside differences and try, really try, to heal the dissonance that permeates our country. Think good thoughts, friends. This anger we’re seeing in this country? Let’s try for something other than “us and them.”
On Thanksgiving morning, my drive from Taylor to Georgetown took me by a field where horses have grazed happily for quite some time. Although I’ve taken quite a few photos there, the time before sunrise was kind of magical, the mist hovering above the prairie, the eastern sky embracing the good light. The family where these horses reside have asked for some time now to try for photos of their beautiful animals, but it’s not been good. Until Thursday morning. While it might’ve been nice to stay around a little longer, a paying assignment had priority. Even so, I like what I was able to see in the few short sunrise minutes there in Jonah, Texas.
For many years, whether in Shreveport, Atlanta or Texas, Thanksgiving has always been a very busy day of work, but that’s okay. It’s good work. Today I photographed two events, Georgetown’s Turkey Trot, from the Georgetown square, with 950 entrants this year. Rather than people with turkey hats, I’m going a different direction with two photos. The first, a disabled Army veteran with his wife after completing his 5-mile run. Two years ago, Michael had hip-replacement surgery, but his years of service left many other bits of pain, too. I think it’s cool he’s so dedicated. The other photo from the race shows two brothers completing their race. The brother in front has Cerebral Palsy. His brother was right behind him, showing his support. The final two photos were taken at Georgetown’s Community Thanksgiving, an event where anyone could get a free meal just for being here. Close to the time when the meal was ending, Hoppy came in, seeing me first and asking if he’d missed everything. I took him to the kitchen, where even though things were being put away, they made plates for Hoppy and a friend. Hoppy is homeless, but is getting help from the community. One such helper is a Georgetown police officer, an amazing person. “She’s been helping me,” Hoppy explained. That friend I mentioned is also homeless. She didn’t want to come inside, but Hoppy took one to her. She didn’t want to be photographed. I respected her wishes. She has enough going on without my interference. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
Last night, driving home from an errand, this little house was abundantly-decorated with Christmas lights. The photo is just a snapshot, but it caused me to recall something from the Atlanta days, during my time at the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. A man who lived in North Atlanta reached out to me with a request, not one meant for publication. He didn’t go into details, but suffice it to say that his wife was terminal, spending her final time on the planet, unable to get around so well. She did, however, love the lights of Christmas. Her husband decided to cover the couple’s large property with lights, not just on the house, but all over the extensive grounds. People could see easily see them when passing through this neighborhood of very high-end homes. The person who couldn’t see it was the lady clinging to life inside the house. Would I be willing to visit there and photograph every bit of the light display? Not for publication in the AJC, but for an audience of one. I readily agreed, turning over the files for him to have printed as he wished. I hope the images brought her some peace.
I often hear folks remark that holiday light displays are tacky, not really what the season is about. They don’t like that decorations go up earlier every year. But here’s the thing, friends. Sometimes, when you’re feeling low, those lights can be just the boost you need. You don’t have to be Christian to appreciate them, either. If they bring a smile to someone’s face, what’s the harm?
One of the days, I’ll actually have a plan on these wandering drives around the prairie, but I do what I do. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not. Last night was beginning to feel like a “not” when the night sky, rippling and rolling clouds, the Waxing Gibbous moon floating in and out of sight, made me feel a wee bit better. Of course, in order to enhance what I saw, a place with less light pollution was needed. So I drove east for a while, coming to a stop at a place where I could pull out the tripod and not be concerned about being mowed down by motor vehicles. Perhaps 45 minutes was spent on these images. Although a bit cold, when I’m in the zone, it doesn’t seem to matter. Thirty minutes into the session, a car pulled in, turning off its lights. My guess? A young couple looking for some privacy! No worries, kids. I didn’t even think about you being there. Of course, when finally packing up the gear, my guess is there was a little silent applause inside that car. All’s good on the prairie, friends.
My rambling got a late start Sunday, resulting in staying close to home. I drove a couple of miles to downtown Taylor, stopping at Second and Main Streets. The viaduct that passes over the train tracks has always been interesting so I spent some time on that, also observing (as seen in the opening photo) the vintage structure on the southwest corner, here since 1883. I do wish someone would find the funds to renovate it. It has character. As I was close to leaving last night, three young folks approached. One, holding a skateboard, asked me how the traffic was on the viaduct. “Pretty steady,” I replied. The young man was interested in doing a bit of skating there. My suggestion: don’t do it. As I packed up my tripod and started to leave, however, there he was, trudging up the hill. Sure enough, there he rolled, his friends videotaping the ride. I wouldn’t have done it, but hey, I’m 66. The last photo is our statue of Mr. Bill Pickett, a Taylor native who created the rodeo sport we call bulldogging. On my daily walks, I pass Mr. Pickett’s likeness. Most times, as if he could hear, I bid him good morning. Just some Sunday night scenes from downtown Taylor, Texas.
As the light faded on Saturday night, I moseyed around the prairie. As is often the case, there was no plan. This time, however, I had something in mind. Thanks to a stop at a railroad crossing in Granger, the plan morphed. After twiddling my thumbs for several minutes, with the northbound train going nowhere, I got out of the car and took photos. Other drivers probably wondered what the heck that weird fellow was doing, but I do what I do. The reason for the delay turned out to be a southbound train en route through Granger. The northbound folks had to wait. These photos, with some light I really like, were the result of my train stop last night. After taking a final photo, maybe twenty minutes into the delay, I turned around, heading on home to Taylor. I’ve no doubt that northbound train eventually moved on.