Monday, October 7, 2013

The First Cool Spell and Stalking Butterflies in South Texas....

Our first cool front of the season blew through night before last.  We sat up watching the sky well past midnight anticipating the wind shift though earlier in the evening subtle breezes had wafted in from the north as a foreshadowing of the nippy weather about to arrive.  This is the time of year for rains in South Texas and over the last month we’ve had what will probably amount to our annual allotment of water.  South of us in the Lower Rio Grande Valley people are panicked over the extreme drought the region has experienced.  But the effects of drought are more a measure of population densities than of actual hazards to the land.  The Brushlands have evolved to endure droughts, and months of cloudless skies did little to affect the ecology of the area.  The hardwoods flowered and produced fruit and the shrubs simply stayed dormant awaiting future rainfall.  But where people amass and emphasize unmitigated growth things are different.  Congestion, pollution, crime and now they worry over where they will get their water.  All of it calculable and foreseeable and yet they scurry along with parochial recklessness fixated on a singular theme that will eventually do nothing more than pull them under.  And so it goes.

When the cool front blew in clouds enveloped us and at last the summer heat disappeared.  Of course, it will return as it always does but for now we revel in the chill.  It is the best time to go woods roaming and so I set out with my little camera as millions of butterflies traversed the brush around me.  When I say millions I should perhaps instead say billions.  The sky dances and flickers as butterflies of all colors and descriptions make their way south.  Without a telephoto lens I must stalk them as they take respite on a blade of grass or a flowering shrub.  But as I approach off they go.  So farther and farther into the woods I roam until the cabin is out of sight and the world, at least as most people understand it, is someplace distant.  A mourning dove coos nearby and a flurry of bobwhite quail breaks the silence.  Butterflies everywhere, I continue trying to stalk them and pause as well to photograph flowers and look at animal tracks and now and then gaze up at those wonderful gray clouds above.

When I arrived back at the cabin my son had a barbeque going and so we ate.  More clouds arrived and I couldn’t help but reflect on what a cloudy sky means.  For those of us accustomed to nearly endless sun the clouds and especially the wintry air are like a glimpse at heaven.

In the afternoon I set out once again woods roaming.  To the west I heard thunder but somehow it seemed good to keep walking.  Then the skies darkened even more and the thunder grew louder.  Foolish perhaps but it made more sense to go forward than to turn around and head back.  Then the rain came.  More of a drizzle actually, I looked on as the monarchs retreated onto the blades of grass and amidst the granjeno trees as did thousands of other butterflies.  But I kept going.

When I finally arrived at the cabin near dusk I was a bit soaked but as happy as I have been in a very long time.
Just keep going forward, my friends.

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