June 16, 1999: Although we live several miles out of town, when we first moved here five years ago and my sister came to visit, I was eager to show her around our small (population 6,400) town. It is a typical sleepy-looking Texas county seat, with a courthouse square and a courthouse built in 1883, on the National Register of Historic Places, complete with a modified cupola on the top housing a Seth Thomas clock that is still working. After listening to me as tour guide for too long, Lynette remarked, "You sure are Small Town Proud!" I plead guilty. After growing up in the country and then spending 40 years in major Southern or Southwestern cities, I was ecstatic to move back to the country and to be near a small town where we do a lot of our shopping, find our services and attend church.
Each Friday night in June, the town puts on a series of free concerts called "A Little Night Music" on the Courtyard Square in Lampasas, Texas. People bring their lawn chairs and the band plays on the bandstand, and real home-made ice cream made by volunteers is sold with proceeds going toward the Courthouse Preservation and Restoration project. When the sun goes down here in the Hill Country, the temperature drops, and usually we are quite comfortable with the prairie breeze, and we have few mosquitoes, which the breezes would keep away, anyway. Young families with children of all ages attend, middle aged and older people come, sometimes adventuresome couples dance and children always respond to the music. Last week a young boy danced to almost every song and put on quite a show under the trees near the bandstand. Big band sounds are always popular. However, last Friday night featured some members from Ft. Hood's 4th Infantry Division Band, which we thought appropriate, given that many of our young men and women in service are currently in harm's way in Kosovo and in Bosnia. I thought I would share a little bit of Rural America with you in this entry in The Lair Log:
The bandstand and part of the crowd. Jene has her hand on the back of her head, and Farris is busy with his ice cream to her right, with my vacant chair between them.
The Band with some of the sponsor's signs
More of the crowd and some of the store fronts.
These concerts are a very pleasant part of our summer experience and they involve a lot of work by a lot of people, and we are appreciative of their efforts.
I have one more picture to share with you. Farris is fond of remarking that "A rancher's work is never done!" Keep in mind that we are developing this place for wildlife habitat and do not own any goats or sheep, and our neighbor runs the cattle on our place. I caught Farris in one of his busier moments with watermelon this morning and thought others should witness it as well:
A Rancher's Hard Life!
A Few Minutes Later: I had finished putting the above information out on the web site and stepped out on the front porch and saw a few deer walking up to the hill, browsing on the way. I thought you would enjoy seeing them, too, only three minutes after the picture was taken:
Deer at The Lair
June 9, 1999: We have had a huge wild turkey hen scratching and pecking her way through our front yard the past two days. Because these birds usually are so elusive, it is always a thrill to us to see one roaming about our place, especially so close to the house. I didn't try to get a picture because they are so wary I knew as soon as I went outside she would run away.
I have done a chalk sketch of a Painted Bunting but was not able to capture the vividness of the coloring. This should at least give an idea of what they look like for those who have not seen them. They are a vivid special shade of red, a darkish red with a little blue in it, and they have a bright blue head and a lime green or yellowish green nape. In Louisiana, a lot of people call them "Pops." They are very tropical looking in their coloring.
Male Painted Bunting
On a sad note, there are no more little fuzzy heads in the Phoebe nest under the eve near the chimney. I suspect a snake climbed up and got the little babies, as we saw once before, early in the morning a couple of years ago. The snake had climbed the wall of our house and was making a meal of the contents of the nest. I wish they would not reuse this nest, although they successfully raised a brood in it last year. Nature can be brutal at times, and it takes discipline to let nature take its course and not interfere. Although, had we seen this in progress, we would have dispatched the snake to snake heaven, for I figure they have 121 plus acres to play and hunt in, the immediate area around the house is ours!
We are able to see such big skies as we walk on The Lair and sit on our porch. This is one of the things I love about living in this Texas Hill Country, especially after living for 19 years in New Orleans which is mostly below sea level. I always felt like I was in the bottom of a damp tea cup there, looking up at the sky. Here, the sky is up there and all around, as it should be! Having our house on a hill gives us a larger view of the land, and we have about a one hundred eighty degree horizon view from the top of the hill. Until recently, the only sky pictures I took were of sunrises and sunsets. Lately, though, I have become interested in preserving pictures of some of the beautiful skies that we have here. Several years ago I passed up the opportunity to get a field guide to the skies, and regretted it ever since. Well, today I received my copy of National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Weather from good old Amazon.com. It is set up like other field guides with beautiful color plates, explanations of the plates and essays about cloud formations, and so forth. I know it is going to enhance my enjoyment of looking at the myriad varieties of clouds that parade before us each week. I hope to start a collection of sky pictures when I see something I think merits preservation in picture form. The picture below is one I took about two weeks ago, and I know I will enjoy this photo even more when I understand more about what is causing this formation and what they are called.
Afternoon Sky at The Lair
According to my first timid foray into the guide, which is very premature and therefore could be incorrect, these would be Cirrocumulus Undulatus, representing moisture at high levels of atmosphere colder than freezing. All the technical jargon aside, from the viewpoint of an artist, I loved this sky because the sun was behind the cloud at left, casting the wonderful shadows to the upper right, and the light rays at the lower left, to the right of the tree. Did you see all that when you first looked at the picture? There is just so much beauty surrounding us all the time when we are out in nature. How often do we take the time to really open our eyes, our senses, our entire beings to be able to take it all in and appreciate it?
When Farris and I took a photography course in Dallas, I was even able to find pockets of beauty in the city, which represented a miracle to country-loving me! We were sent out on excursions to photograph such things as reflections, night scenes, interiors, portraits, water, pictures that tell a story, still lifes, pictures containing certain colors, etc. I found a huge flowerbed of deep red flowers in front of a glass fronted (commercial) building that was accented with red tiles of the same color. The red flowers were reflected in the mirror front of the building. The photo showed a moment of beauty in the city. But I much prefer seeing and photographing what is natural versus what man has made. One of the next areas I plan to explore is capturing pictures of some of the many insects that are around me all the time. But that will have to wait on my exploration of the skies in the next few weeks.
Last revised: November 26, 2010