Friday, August 24, 2007

Big Bend Summer

As the summer comes to an end, I've wanted to write the final little chapter of my Big Bend experience this summer. In many ways lately, I'm reminded that things change and come to an end. Yet, much stays the same. Football season is starting all over this great land. As are harvests. And school. The dog days are here and the end is upon us. This summer has been different for me in many a way. After all, I guess I have spent the past seven years in Alaska. So in many ways, this summer was understandably different, even if it was wetter and cooler than the typical Texas summer. By far though, the theme for me has been Big Bend and how much the trip affected my thinking in a lot of ways.

One similar thing about this summer, as has been for others, was the introduction to new music. My Big Bend prof has a band called Joe Kuban and the Lost Chizos Band. The only real way to describe it is Texas Country. Their CD, "On the River Road" is all about Big Bend. Any proceeds go directly to the Big Bend Natural History Association. In other words, I guess I'm admitting I do have a bias. And I know all the context of the songs. But, I really like this music. The album cover is of the Caballo Muearto or Dead Horse Mountains. Here is my photo version from our trip.

I've been reading a book off and on this summer called "Gods Country or Devil's Playground". The book is a collection of essays about Big Bend and the country around the park on both sides of the border. It is edited by Barney Nelson. The essays are very diverse, but very well written. When I'm reading, I can picture images like this view of Casa Grande:
Or this picture of the Bear's Paw:

The Big Bend trip was not only a highlight of the summer but in many ways a life changing experience. There is a smile written on my heart when I am in the mountains. Much more so when the experience is novel. I guess Big Bend is so special for me because places like it are increasingly rare in this world. Nature without much of man's direct influence around. I'm of the school of thought that believes that we need places like Big Bend simply because they exist with no other extrinsic value placed on the land. Since I live in a city essentially, I've come to really appreciate natural places. And, as they say, "the worst day in the mountains is better than the best day in the city."

Big Bend is "one of those places" for me. There is something about the place that words and photos do not capture. After all, it has been two months since my trip and I'm still impulsively trying. I can't wait to get back.

The one thing that made the trip so special was the class of people who were involved. We came together in many ways. This was tested somewhat on the drive out of the park when two of our compadres rolled thier SUV into the desert, smashing the hell out of both the car and a giant Engelmann's prickly-pear. We drove up on a scene I will never forget. Luckily no one was seriously hurt. We spent a week together in the desert though, away from e-mail and mostly out of cell phone range. And we became good friends in a short period of time. Here is our class photo in front of the Chisos. It is a photo of my friends who for the most part were mere associates at the beginning of the trip.

The Ecology of Big Bend, University of Texas at Arlington ~ Summer, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Nature Photo

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Nature Photos

A Western Tiger Swallowtail larvae showed up about a month back on Jennifer's porch.

At least two of them made cocoons in her garage. This one hasn't openned.

This one openned last week and a wobbly adult swallowtail atracted outside kitty. Jen and I were in a hurry, so I didn't get a photo, but I did put him in the flower garden up away from the cat. The cocoon was metalic-like.

I found this Martin house. They are cool swallows.