Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Walking Under the Stars

Unless it is thundering and pouring down rain, which isn't very often, my husband and I walk our two dogs every day around 5:15 in the morning. It is cool then in the Texas hill country where we live. We are surrounded by green woodlands, a nature preserve with canyons and there is a large lake nearby. We usually walk about two miles in morning and frequently walk another two miles at night, after it cools off.

Lately I have been paying attention to the abundant life around me as I walk underneath the Little Dipper, directly above us this time of year. I love hearing the whippoorwill's soft cry at the same place on the road. There is some comfort in the lonesome regularity of its call.

Yesterday my large lab was nosing around in the grass and stuck her nose right on a big tarantula. It reared back to bite her just as my husband pulled all 80 pounds of her away. The tarantulas are large here, about the size of an open hand spread, but they can blend in with the grass and leaves, especially in some places where the streetlight is dim.

Although they can jump up to about 5 feet, they are not aggressive and generally scoot by you to get on the road where it is warm. I took a picture of one a few days ago as it sat on the sidewalk.

I do keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, as they sometimes come up from the canyon to seek water in the sprinkler systems when it is dry. In the old days, my grandfather, who was a rancher, told me that they smeared bacon grease on snakebit dogs and usually they survived, having no anti-venom then.

Yesterday, as we approached a wooded area by the side of the road with large old oaks trees, I heard a loud snort and knew there were deer nearby. Two large does ran out into the clearing in front of us.

We've seen coyotes on the road, but they do not come close, preferring to watch from a safe distance.

There are also armadillos and possums, and cottontail rabbits, the nocturnal creatures not evident in the daylight hours.

The rabbits stay snugly hidden after daylight to avoid the numerous red-tailed hawks. I once had a hawk swoop down on a litter of white kittens in my back yard and tried to take off with one of the kittens in its talons. The mother cat jumped on the hawk, spitting and furious and it released the baby unharmed, feathers flying as it tried to make its getaway. I think the hawk mistook it for a rabbit.

30 Comments:

At 3:15 AM, Blogger Tabor said...

I lived in Texas for a number of years. We were down in the Galveston area and had to contend with copperheads and water mocassins and those palmetto bugs that got into the house. I love Texas, but it does have its animals!!

 
At 3:30 AM, Blogger glenda said...

Ah, Tabor, Galveston is a beautiful area. I've been to the beach down there many times. However, I think the most dangerous critters down here are the politicians. We have exported more venom by way of Tom DeLay, Alberto Gonzales, Phil Graham, the Bushies, Kay Baileyy Huchison, ah, the list is long....I miss Ann Richards!

 
At 4:13 AM, Blogger Rory Shock said...

very nice ... your grandpa's story lends some confirmation to something I heard from an old rattlesnaker, which is that dogs are more resistant to the venom than humanoids ... I've never checked that out nor dealt with a bitten dog ... but maybe I'll replace the useless snake bite kit I am supposed to carry with a BLT!

 
At 4:33 AM, Blogger glenda said...

That could be the case, rory, although he saw untreated dogs die. Don't know if that was an old wives tale or not. Baby rattlers are the most dangerous, especially if you accidentally step on one, as they haven't learned to calculate the dosage on the venom and thus may inject you with more than a grown snake.

 
At 4:35 AM, Blogger Mary said...

I have never been to Texas. It was interesting to follow you on your walk.

 
At 5:15 AM, Blogger WeezieLou said...

nice, peaceful nature musings as i begin the day. thanks

 
At 5:28 AM, Blogger Candace said...

As more and more Dallas suburbs encroach on the land up here, and as the drought continues, coyotes have been a real danger to small pets, and moms keep a close eye on their children. Great story about the mama cat!

 
At 5:57 AM, Blogger glenda said...

Mary,weezielou and candace, -A lot of folk in the country won't keep cats or small dogs anymore, because the coyotes eat them. Several state agencies have noted wolves a few counties east of here. It will be interesting to see if they migrate into our area.

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger Jeremy said...

We've talked about this before G, and I won't lie to you…but most people I talked to around here, and this is totally anectodal – really don’t like Texas all that much.

My father travels to Dallas all the time on business and it’s his least favorite place to go. I’m totally stereotyping, as I’ve never been to Texas, but I imagine it has some amazing scenery. I just don’t know if I could deal with the heat.

I’m totally willing to give it a try and people tell me that I have to travel to Austin one of these days – but I think when people comment on Texas when I ask them, they’re more referring to some of the people, rather than the beautiful land itself.

I have to have the ocean near me or I go crazy…but I bet I’d really like parts of Texas, so I liked reading this post. Oh, and where the hell did my buddy Ann Richards go? I always thought she was beloved down there?

 
At 10:42 AM, Blogger isabelita said...

Cool, a tarantula! My sister saw them frequently when she used to live in Arizona. We looked for them in Joshua Tree National Park this January, but it was too cold for them to be out.
Not so great the rattler, but then, they've been around for ages, long before us.

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger thepoetryman said...

It is quite odd, maybe not, that we seem to be in sink with posts today... I just posted about a tree... and your post is in nature and that last pic of yours I see the tree as "her" (Mother Nature?) spine, being us, that must keep her (nature) healthy...or it is our spines that will be uprooted... No? :>)

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger glenda said...

Jeremy, Ann Richards still has a lot of fans in Austin. And there are good and bad people everywhere.
Dallas is not a place I'd ever live, but Austin is wonderful, and has a liberal hippy heart. South padre island is also beautiful, warm winters, unspoiled beaches, and bird sanctuaries.
True, it is beastly hot down here, in the summer, but then again, how often are you housebound becuase of the cold. I can walk outside or bike year round, as long as I don't do it in the middle of the day in the summer.

Isabelita, the tarantulas are fascinating to watch!
But I stay away from rattlers.

 
At 7:27 PM, Blogger Gazetteer said...

That was a great walk.

Me, I'm just getting ready to hop on my bike for the ride home through the Lotuslandian rain forest.

.

 
At 7:50 PM, Anonymous Pekka said...

As wonderful as these daily rituals of yours are they still some how illustrate the unfortunate fact that we humans are encroaching animal habitations every where and guess who are the loosers? The relentless sprawl is rapidly and literally putting a gun to the head of a wild beast and squeezing the tricker, too. I know already what sort of a person you are and this was not meant to be judgemental to you. It was just that your wonderful animal encounters brought these looming sad thoughts...something that our children might not be able to enjoy for long. Damn me being such a party-pooper!

 
At 1:50 AM, Blogger No said...

I love this post, Glenda...and the picture..love it!

Can I post it on my blog?

 
At 1:51 AM, Blogger No said...

Um..I mean pictures...

 
At 2:04 AM, Blogger sumo said...

Very nice post...and good for the little kitty.

 
At 4:47 AM, Blogger glenda said...

No problem, Beth!

 
At 4:48 AM, Blogger glenda said...

Oh, I should mention, i did not do these pictures.

 
At 8:06 AM, Anonymous guerrillasinthemidst said...

Lovely post, very Emersonian.

I bet you the hawk saw the kittens as easy prey, what season was it that you saw this? We have Peregrine falcons going nuts right now because its hungry chick time (at about 3 fledglings a pop, the pigeon population is plummeting). Just curious.

 
At 12:45 AM, Blogger No said...

Thanks, Glenda...even if you didn't "do" these pictures..they are great!

 
At 1:53 AM, Blogger a rose is a rose said...

i think i've been through the area where you live. at least it sounds familiar. as a yankee (die hard i might add. oh not a YANKEE fan, a bosox fan, but a citizen of new england i mean) i fell in love with texas and it's residents. i liked dallas even but austin was something else. there were areas you'd swear you were in greenwich village. the people (seemed to be at least) so very accepting. AND the best part is YOU PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO SERVE ICED TEA

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger No said...

Okay--Glenda/Pink Fem= same/different person?

Just have to know..

 
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At 11:25 PM, Blogger Brownie said...

Hi Good Witch Of The West. This is my first visit here and I followed your gravatar from Charlie's Highland Dreams and have read down this far and have to comment on loving the cat story - in the past week we have seen (down here in Australia) news of the American ginger cat which ran a grizzly bar up a tree. Right up that tree. Go Kitty.

re 'Austin's Hippy Heart' - I have a copy of the Janis Joplin biog Scars Of sweet Success, and it is evident from that, that the entire San Fran 1968 Hippie Scene REALLY CAME FROM AUSTIN.

I amm now reading Kitty Kelley on The Bush Family. God Bless Texas.

 
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