If you’ve watched my posts for a while you’ve seen this elegant off-white horse. When I’m between Granger and Bartlett on any given evening, and the light’s looking good, I’ll swing by and say howdy. Almost every time I pass by, this fellow preens and poses for my camera. Since he’s in a pasture I can only view from the road, we “chat” with a bit of distance between us. But it’s enough. And he’s handsome. Hopefully, we’ll see each other again really soon.
This week we’ve been back in Texas for nine years. During that time, I’ve taken photos of Immanuel Lutheran Church in West Taylor, the Church on the Hill, quite a few times. Until last evening, however, I hadn’t thought to look behind the church, where I discovered Immanuel Lutheran Church Cemetery. A sign at the cemetery gate says the cemetery formed in 1886, but I’m going with what I see on the church’s website, 1889. The church itself was first built in 1894. In January 1916 a fire destroyed its sanctuary. The congregation rebuilt, dedicating their new sanctuary that Fall. It’s the church that stands today. But back to the cemetery. A look at the church’s site told me the first burial was in 1889, a little girl, Minna Roeske, born May 16, 1889, passing from this world October 20, 1889 Tonight, I returned to find her grave, represented here. Immanuel has German roots. You’ll see gravestones engraved in that language. In fact, Immanuel’s services were only conducted in German until 1929, when both English and German were spoken. I’m happy to have “discovered” the cemetery last evening. When returning tonight to find Minna’s grave, the cows in the pasture were absent. It’s a good thing I stopped by on Monday. I’ve photographed this church many times in nine years. God willing, I’ll represent it here again.
A friend recently mentioned an old bridge in Milam County, Texas I might like. Last week I took a drive east to Apache Pass, to the Worley Bridge, a truss bridge built in 1911, spanning the San Gabriel River. It’s a one-lane bridge along County Road 428. I was happy to finally find it. Once I did, I parked on the shoulder and walked around for a few minutes, snapping a few photos. During that time, I got some curious looks as big old trucks, barely able to fit, ambled across. One fellow stopped, asking me “Whatcha doing?” You know, folks, when someone’s got two high-end cameras draped around their necks, isn’t it obvious? But being the nice fellow I am (sometimes), I just responded “Taking photos!” That seemed to satisfy my visitor. These photos were taken in a pretty short time period. You can only stand on a one-lane bridge so long before things get dicey. This bridge was completely restored a few years ago. It looks grand. I do wish the river had a little more water though. Droughts are no fun.
This weekend I attended two happenings, one on Saturday, the other today, both at the Boys and Girls Club of Georgetown. The events focused on helping kids and families get ready for the upcoming school year. On Saturday, Celebration Church Georgetown handed out 650 backpacks. Later this month, they’ll travel to Austin and hand out 950 more. And today was the culmination of the Georgetown Area Junior Forum’s Fill the Bus campaign. Approximately 800 families lined up to receive not only free backpacks, but school supplies to fill those packs. Georgetown Area Junior Forum is a group of Georgetown-area women who give back to this diverse community. They deserve reams of kudos for what they do. The first five photos are from Saturday’s session with the folks from Celebration, the remainder from today. There’s a rule I occasionally break, the one about people looking into my camera, what I call iPhone deer-in-the-headlights moments. Normally, I don’t like those, but with the faces of this beautiful children, I think it’s just fine. These photos were made for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.
With apologies to the great work of Wallace Stegner, “Angle of Repose,” allow me to present this warm sunset, taken last evening. I was visiting with a dear friend, who lives on this beautiful stretch of road in East Williamson County, Texas. Looking west, I hastily explained, “time to go!” These photos were taken from the end (or beginning) of her long driveway. Since traffic was minimal, I stepped out into the road a few times. “Repose” is defined as ” a state of rest, sleep, or tranquility.” Let’s go with tranquility here. I watched that hot ball of light for a few minutes, its rays caressing the asphalt with color. By the time the sun began to fade, the light faded, too. The road was once again just a road. But I got what I wanted.
Most of tonight’s photos were taken in East Williamson County, Texas, but one or two might be from our neighbor to the east, Milam County. In both counties, the land and sky look grand. What we have here are cleared corn fields, those yet to be harvested, and what I think might be another hand shack, sitting majestically in the middle of a harvested field. When the corn was high, you didn’t see it. A “hand shack” was meant as a temporary residence for seasonal farm workers. Most I’ve seen, like this one, are squarely in the center of a field, making it the transition from rest to work an easy one. This entry fades with a day’s light on the last couple, one with that nice shade of blue I treasure.
While pursuing another thing this evening in Milam County, Texas, I couldn’t help but stop to watch another sunset along a quiet farm-to-market road near Apache Pass. A pleasant surprise awaited as four curious heads popped up, taking a pause from their pond as it reflected the day’s final rays. It was a good night. I can’t add another thing.
The quality of light before dawn is always inspiring, even more so when I can make myself rise early enough to enjoy it. This morning I got up a little after 5:30, quickly dressed and drove to the rookery at Taylor’s Murphy Park. The egrets and ducks calling this home in the spring and summer months will envelop their little island completely in the evening, settling in for a good rest, but when daylight comes these birds take flight to gather sustenance for their families. During the harsh light of day you’ll see a few here and there, but it’s sparse. With that in mind, I arrived 45 minutes before first light , documenting the activity until just before sunrise. These are mostly presented chronologically, beginning with the earliest image, about 30 minutes from sunrise. The first two photos were made with the use of an always-handy tripod using a 20-second exposure. Those birds were so still, I didn’t have to worry about movement! The final photo, with a Waning Gibbous moon adding a speck of light above, was less than five minutes before dawn. Driving away a bit before 7, my rearview mirror filled with the sun’s glow. We’ll visit the sun another day, friends. This one’s about the gift of morning’s subtle tones.
Each year since returning to Texas, I like to follow a farm family during harvest. This summer I’ve had the honor of working with Norman’s Crossing farmer Troy Boehm and his family, including his wife, Jeni, and their two teens, Gage, 16, and Garet, 13, while they work literally day and night through 1900 acres of Blackland Prairie corn. As this is written, they’re out there somewhere right now. Troy, 45, took the reins from his father, Emzy Boehm. And Emzy’s father, Raymond Boehm, preceded by Max Boehm, who began many years ago in neighboring Milam County. A complete column I’ve written is being published in Wednesday’s Williamson County Sun so I’ll keep this brief. The opening image was taken just before 9pm last Friday, when a full moon, appropriately called a Blood Moon, helped light the way. Those teens, by the way, have been navigating those tractors since they were 7-years-old. Also included are two of Troy’s helpers, Dwaine Cervenka, driving the combine, and Dwaine’s father, Frank, piloting one of the trucks loaded with grain. Since the family never seemed to be in the same place, I did a formal portrait of them in front of their wonderful grain elevators. Also included is one of Troy and Jeni watching a prairie sunset. This Blackland Prairie land is a place my wife and I specifically chose when I “retired” from the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. I am hopeful, even with progress and growth, this ocean of land remains for many future generations.
“Playing to the base” is a phrase I’ve heard repeated often in stories, usually related to political matters. Tonight’s photo, perhaps, plays to my own base. As stated many times, it’s seldom you’ll see me pass up a good sunrise or sunset. I never grow tired of them. This photo was taken this evening on a nice little road a little west of Granger, Texas. Understand that I still embrace good community storytelling, but these pictorial interludes? Well, they’re okay, too.