Sunday, August 9, 2020
Summer’s heat has seeped into Central Texas, saturating every plant, tree and blade of grass with sweltering temperatures. Some wildflowers still bloom in fields and along roadsides, but many have gone to seed, scattering their progeny for next year. Splendid dayflower still blooms in our yard, but the flowers are much diminished at this point.
Last Sunday we escaped to McKinney Roughs Nature Center for a getaway from life in the time of coronavirus. Even in hot, dry weather the meadows there are remarkably green. Sandy trails wind down to the Colorado River through tall pines and pecan and oak trees. The river was high, probably due to heavy rain showers the week before. There were only a few short paths to access the water, and those were lined with thick bunches of poison ivy so we followed the trail all the way to the Hyatt Resort.
The Hyatt’s sloping emerald lawn and golf course made the Nature Center’s meadows look yellow and brown in comparison. Trees and brush along the river grow thick and tall, their roots growing deep next to the water. We sat on a boat dock with our legs and feet in the river. There was barely a current, the muddy brown water almost still, yet cool and refreshing. Across the river a great blue heron stood on a sandy shore surveying his possibilities, while a snowy egret waded into the water. Their reflections flashed in the sunlight. Our legs dried off quickly in the hot windless air, heat reflecting off the dock. Nearby an orchard oriole flew from tree to bush, searching for berries while a cardinal flitted around him.
The trail back climbed up in direct sunlight, a long slog in any amount of time. At the center we rested in front of a garden of orange zinnias, sunflowers and Turk’s cap, a paradise for hummingbirds and butterflies. It was surprising that only a few other visitors were hiking given there are few places to go. For us, it was a much-needed day trip.
The doe and her little fawn are still visiting the yard regularly, but after dark now. Sometimes the fawn is bedded in the yard among the bucks, while his mother is off somewhere. It’s as if he has a large group of baby sitters. He lies in the grass, head up and alert, big oval ears erect, watching as we walk past. For the most part, does and bucks are traveling separately, but there are groups of does with one or two yearling bucks, possibly their families. In fall that may change.