The pungent waft of wild onion dominates my senses. But the sights of early morning light through the bottomland forest in spring competes for my attention. And wins. Youthful leaves and grasses, deep greens. The odd palmetto. Wildflowers of white, yellow, pink, blue, red, purple, and so on.
The Brazos river below me runs muddy and slow. Meandering seemingly unknowing. Perhaps unknowable. Alligators lurk below the murky waters, unseen. Wild pigs and venomous snakes, hidden on the land above. White tail deer, woodland hare, squirrels, and nutria, their prey. Soaring above, the hawks and vultures watching us all with precision. And the wading birds… abundant and voraciously feeding all day.
As I walk the trail below, owls observe silently from their perches in the Spanish moss strewn oaks. These ancient, giant trees are impressive. I’ve stood beneath the redwoods and these southern brothers hold court. I move through this scene swiftly but quiet.
These hikes are my work, exercise, and holy communion all at once. Two cameras dangle from my neck and shoulders. One for landscapes and the other for wildlife, or any other presented beauty. My 16-35mm is quite straightforward in utility, but my 70-200/2.8 is more opportunistic. It is part vulture and part honey badger. It takes what it can and doesn’t care about it’s so called stated purposes. It is just as happy with portraits and details as it is with landscapes, or the occasional wildlife.
I haven’t visited this special place since we hit the road for good nearly five years ago. I needed this. It is my favorite spot in Texas, except for perhaps Big Bend country. But it is only by a narrow margin.
All of the seasons are noteworthy here, but spring reigns supreme. Winter has a strange chaotic life about it, that most other places don’t. It is the haven for almost countless species of bird. Summer slows to a southern drawl. Everything trying to regulate the insane heat and humidity. Autumn, is probably the least notable. Its just the short, in between phase from oppressive, high temperatures to the avian plague.
Spring is the renewal. When haunting grays and browns turn to green, and all other manner of vibrant color. If you stare for long, the ground seems to move with lizards, snakes, bugs. Stare into the middle and far distance and the water-logged landscape comes alive with rodents and gators. Deep and ghostly bellows fill the morning with the bass-line melody of mating calls. This time of year, the alligators (and many other species) procreate and give birth.
The rhythm of the frogs is the ever-present musak of the swamp. You only seem to notice at first, and then it seeps into you fully. The cool mornings boast blues and drops of dew. But in a short amount of time, it is flanked by the increasing heat of the day.
And as they days pass and grow longer, the season is quickly lost to the dominant phase of the year, summer.
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com