Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mowing it Old School

While I was in grad school (again) I broke down and hired a person to do my front lawn. It created a little bit of time I could recapture for myself even though yard work is one of my favorite chores. Even though I completed grad school almost a year ago, I continued to let him mow the lawn as he had so many stories of struggle and needing the money.

Since my job is on the cutting block, I need the money too, so I finally decided to let him go and mow myself.

In addition to enjoying the work of mowing and trimming the yard, I really wanted to do what I can to go green. I decided to purchase an old fashioned reel mower since my yard is so small. I cannot imagine a time that I won't be able to get the lawn done with the reel mower and I will save a bit on emissions - and do the lawn at midnight and not disturb the neighbors.

The first two rounds of mowing actually went a little bit faster than it did with the old power mower. So I feel good about being good and saving a little time.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Wilderness at Home

This past week while hiking with my friends I asked them to be on the lookout for snakes, as snakes are one of my favorite photographic subjects, though I find too few around Austin or on the well traveled trails. We did manage to come across a few lizards on the hike, but no snakes were seen.

Until Tuesday when I was working in my garden.

You can see the rat snake top center if you look closely.
And there in my home mulch (along with turkey bones) was a lovely rat snake. Although I had a hoe in my hand, my first thought was not to chop its head off, my first thought was to run and grab my camera (which I obviously did).

A little closer to the snake.

Just the day before I had seen a mouse run into the mulch bin, so I should not have been surprised to find a rat snake in there. I am sure my various mulching and the mice it attracted kept him well fed.

After snapping a few pictures, I put on my gardening gloves and picked him up and checked him out to make sure there were no obvious injuries from being dumped out of a mulch bin and it seemed to be just fine, so I let him go at the far end of the bed, away from where I was working and he slithered off to find more mousey goodness. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nowhere Corral

I am taking full advantage of spring break by doing strenuous physical activities. A couple of my friends also had Monday off, so we decided to go for a hike in Pedernales Falls State Park, a park not too far from Austin. We followed the river for a while and then connected with the main hiking trail in the park.

At one point we started to wander down a side trail with hopes that it would lead us to a cliff where we could look down on the river flowing below. We wandered a ways, but there was no sign of anything remotely resembling a cliff. On that detour though, we came across and old homestead with only the majority of the fireplace remaining. Even so, the time had washed away so much of the packing around the stones that it was a pile of stones, that continued to maintain the shape of the fire pit and the chimney.

Nearby we saw an old corral, with the beams sagging, often piled on top of one another instead of spaced up the posts.

We  traveled a bit farther down the trail and came upon some stone fences.

The construction of the fences really amazed me, as they followed the natural contours of the landscape, so the fence did not have to be exceptionally high, but connected to the shape of the land it made an effective barricade.

Though the house was gone and the fences were in grave disrepair, the level of effort and purpose behind the building of those structures amazed me. I cannot imagine how long it took to gather the rock, haul them to the right spaces and then lay them in - both for the fence and the fireplace - so that held their shape despite weather and time and stubborn trees growing up in the middle. The images of the corral especially stayed with me. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, stood a circular pen with no clear entrance, but the effort to create it demonstrates some genuine purpose behind it, and while it seems in the middle of nowhere today, at one time it was somewhere quite important.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Beyond Necessary

Today I was visiting the classroom of one of the teachers in my department, and I noticed the box of labels on her desk.

I didn't know you needed a label to ship something on the Internet.

It even has permanent adhesive. I guess you cannot delete it once it is received.