Since coming to Taylor, in summer of 2009, I’ve admired this field along Carlos Parker Boulevard. It’s a 40-plus acre swath of land residing next to Taylor Middle School. It’s been for sale for most of that time, but lately I’ve noticed a larger sign posted there. Tonight, I stopped by to take a few photos of the field of corn thriving there, and the farmhouse in the distance. If anyone has lived there, it’s apparently been a while. After almost 30 years in metro-Atlanta, we wanted small and quiet, open. If and when this land sells, we’ll see what happens. People need places to live, making this a good place for a subdivision. More growth means a lessening of our tax burden, too, but the rural character of the area is something to be cherished. I do.
Last evening, while en route to check something else out in Taylor, the light falling on the grain elevators at Williamson County Grain got my attention. Although I took some photos of these about two years back, the birds flying around them got my attention. For a few minutes, I observed. Then along came a young man, 16, riding his bike. He stopped, introduced himself, and commenced to discuss photography. Normally, I wouldn’t pay much mind, but then he pulled a little Nikon out from under his jacket. He’s been taking a photo class at Taylor High School, but he’s also interested in computers. We talked about light, with yours truly mentioning the splendid advantage of light near, or after, sunset. Since it was getting late, I asked if he didn’t need to be heading home. “I’m supposed to be home by 8,” he replied. This was about 7:45. We talked a while longer, with suggestions that he point his own camera at the grain elevators. Hopefully, he understood about my notion of watching the light. Closer to his home deadline, I hopped in my car and moseyed home myself. That other photo idea could wait. After almost 30 years of living in metro-Atlanta, it’s hard not to worry about kids out close to dark, but then I remember that this is Taylor, Texas, a town of a little over 16,000. Still, it pays to be cautious. The young man was thoughtful, and curious. Good things. I hope the mini-lesson helped a bit.
Maybe it’s not correct to call these photos taken with my cell phone an “experiment” anymore. One thing is certain, however. I like having the ability to record a few things during those daily long walks. These are this week’s snapshots, all in Taylor this time. For a while, I’ve seen what I call “free-range chickens” wandering through my neighborhood, but haven’t been able to get any kind of image with the dang phone. Today, however, I happened on the chicken you see posted here. That bird wasn’t so sure about me, but determined to pluck a snack from this street. Hopefully, these chickens won’t be mowed down anytime soon. Another photo is of Dane, a photographer I met while walking. Dane, a young fellow, loves his Rollei camera, a twin-lens reflex that shoots 120mm film. He just moved to Taylor. There’s also a young egret in a photo, near the rookery. Maybe they can’t fly so well so soon after birth? I left her alone after figuring out she couldn’t easily escape my “camera.” That’s it for this week’s mobile images.
Recently, I had the pleasure of recording 101-year-old Sun City resident Al Blaschke as he was treated to a ride in a vintage 1940s P-51 Mustang piloted by Cowden Ward of Burnet, Texas. Blaschke proves the saying “age is only a number.” Last year, to celebrate his 100th birthday, Blaschke went skydiving with his good friend Betty Schleder, also of Sun City. That’s Betty in some of these photos. This time around, Blaschke and Ward left Georgetown Municipal Airport, flying over Dell Diamond for the opening game of the Round Rock Express baseball team. During the flight, Ward did not one, but two barrel rolls! Although the P-51 is capable of reaching over 400 miles per hour, Ward kept it down to no more than about 350mph. That’s one swift bird. The flight was funded by John Burkhardt of Austin, a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. During World War II, Blaschke tried to enlist three times, but was turned down because the country considered his work with Pratt and Whitney, which supplied aircraft materials for the United States, was a more important service. Indeed, he is a member of the Greatest Generation. “It was the most fantastic experience of my life,” he exclaimed after the flight. Mr. Blaschke is one very cool fellow!
This barn, just south of Granger, looks better when the western light is fading into the horizon. This is a photo taken while on the lookout for something else. I’ll never pass up good light.
A few weeks ago, I covered a Special Olympics-type track meet in Georgetown, Texas. It reminded me that I’ve been covering these events, with joy, for many years. These photos were taken in February 1981 during the Special Olympics held in Cobb County, Georgia, a suburban area north of Atlanta. They were taken for my new employer at the time, the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. The venues covered were basketball and downhill skiing, where an artificial surface was used for skiing. It’s still one of the most life-affirming things I document.
There’s a little spot along Taylor’s Bull Branch Creek I like to visit with a good book in hand. This week, on a late-afternoon trip there, I started being fascinated by the reflections in the water. After finishing a chapter, I couldn’t help myself. I went to the car and pulled out the camera, commencing to document what I saw for the next hour. These photos might not be your cup of tea, but I love the swirling of the water, creating interesting patterns on the surface. I wonder if you’ve figured out what that “pink” is yet? Spring brings us Pink Evening Primrose wildflowers, also called buttercups, in abundance. That’s what you’re seeing here. Once the shadows put an end to that, I continued snapping away, watching the ducks …. and just the water. There’s a reason I like my little spot.
For a while tonight, I debated about the best presentation for this Texas Longhorn mama and her baby calf, but opted here for black-and-white. We see the world in color, of course, but at times it’s best to go with a gray, black and white approach. Don’t misunderstand. I love color photography, but sometimes monotone is better. Black and white has a unique ability to simplify when it’s needed. All that aside, I loved the way mama let her little one cuddle so close. When these were taken last evening, it was cloudy and well past sunset. At first, I just saw those big horns, but then there was baby, tucked well under those protective legs.
Mostly, I’m not out specifically looking for bluebonnet photos right now, but when they pop up in interesting places, who am I to turn my head from the Texas state flower? Okay, so it’s a weed, but it’s a mighty nice weed, isn’t it? While in the Granger area yesterday, waiting for better light for another subject, the plan was to use Brethren Cemetery as a turnaround spot. A look to the left, however, lulled me out of the car for a few short minutes. Cemeteries are fascinating places. This one’s well-maintained. You can tell that families care. That last photo is kind of unsettling. At least it was to me. For many years, it was common practice to place a photograph of the departed on the gravestones. This grave was that of a child, a toddler girl who lived two years. Back home, when editing images this morning, a silent gasp escaped my breath. The photo on the stone was of the baby post-death. Some traditions are … words escape me.
Now that Spring is with us (although it’s been cold for a couple days), the rookery at Murphy Park in Taylor has become more alive with activity than ever. Egrets have been nesting, bringing new life to the planet. Throughout the year, we can see the ducks, cormorants, cattle egrets, herons, and geese, but this time of the year the skies are the electric domain of egrets … the cattle egrets, of course, but also Great Egrets and even a few Snowy Egrets (with black bills, not orange). These are a few photos taken there over the last few days. I can sit there on the lake’s shore, observing. When in the zone, someone can be standing right next to me, but the meditative state remains. That is good.