I am now home in Austin, visiting family for Thanksgiving and my sister's birthday. I've come to notice just how pertinent the information being taught in the culvert workshops I've been facilitating has become to my neighborhoods. The culverts and stream flows around my house are inadequate and, with Saturday's heavy rains, were prone to flooding and high water crossings. This becomes a problem when trying to get from Point A to Point B, especially when on a bike (as we were yesterday when we had to find an alternate route due to high water over the road).
Storms are slowly getting more substantial as the climate shifts, so creating the correct culvert crossing, replacing what is already there or removing the crossing altogether if it's not needed IS the ROAD to the future.
But speaking of that bike ride, central Texas contains different types of beauty than Maine. There are no rocky shores, moist and mossy forests or colors that make even color-blind people "ooooh and ahh." What you do find here is open land in the country with raptors soaring above, drought-tolerant flora, cotton fields, rolling hills and trees that remind me of Dr Suess' The King's Stilts. I've traded one magnificent landscape for another.
Other than the under-sized and over-filled culvert, I saw so many things within the 52 miles of road. I can now cross off another bird from my imaginary "life list:" the Crested Caracara. I squealed with excitment when I realized what he was. If you haven't seen this bird, it's about the same size as an osprey, with yellow legs, a ruddy/red face and all black except for its chest and neck, wing tips and tail parts. This creature looks much like its now-extinct relative, the Guadalupe Caracara. The latter was driven to extinction in Mexico for its believed predation on baby goats though in turn, it was the reign of the feral goats, as well as human hunting and poisoning, that lead to their demise in 1900.
Other sights on the bike ride consisted of cracked roads, a couple dozen vultures riding vents in the sky, viewing land that was uninhabited when I was a small child but now built up into hideous structures and visiting the house I grew up in. The "Uhland house" as well called it is in Uhland, Texas was originally built in the 1800's but when my parents bought it in the 70's, they added an addition to the back that would be my sister's room and my room plus "the Big Room!" The house, on Cotton Gin Road, is near the former Club 21 (burned to the ground in October 2o10) where no jean shorts were allowed, Plum Creek where my sister and I spent many a day exploring and coming back with poison ivy (me not her) and open land for miles around.
The past is the past. It was a wonderful place to grow up but now I'm very happy to be in Maine, where the leaves change, the snow falls silently and I can collect sea glass to my heart's desire!