Initially, I wanted to be on my daily walk by now, but it just started raining pretty hard, so I chickened out. Down to a drizzle now, but I hear thunder, might be better to wait a little longer. Not too long, though, once the sun comes out again, walking will be so much tougher. Even now, though it’s still officially winter, our Texas sun is so powerful that it makes it difficult for me to walk the hour or so it takes me to complete a 5 K walk. My head feels as if it might explode any second and I liberally curse this utterly stupid exercise – who’s imbecilic idea was that walking thingy, anyway?
Not so today! It’s cool with a brisk and chilly wind. If you factor in the occasional, refreshing drizzle, today is the perfect day for me to tackle a stretch of road, I’ve been deliberately avoiding up to this point, the Johnson Creek crossing.
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s quite hilly around here. We have only one hardtop road, which runs from our gate on the western border of our ranching community, to dead-end at the most easterly properties. This road, called Camino Real, meanders up and down the hillsides for almost 12 miles, with side roads snaking south or north in irregular intervals, connecting individual properties to Camino Real. Most of these side roads are not much more than caliche covered tracks, which wash out after rainstorms to leave piles of rock collections alternating with deep craters. During dry times, on the other hand, they generate really interesting, sticky dust clouds.
Our place is about eight miles in from the gate. From our green front door, I walk along the caliche track about four-tenths of a mile down to Camino Real, where I have the choice of turning right to march in a westerly direction toward our mailbox at the distant gate, or hang a left and walk past our own land in an easterly direction. More often than not, I choose the easier stretch to the East.
Today, however, was Johnson Creek Day. Johnson Creek is the widest of our numerous arroyos here in the ranchlands. It being an arroyo, a dry creek bed that only carries water – very fast flowing, dangerous water, called a flash flood – after it rains sufficiently, indicates it’s situation as way below the lofty hill, on which we built our house. The creek isn’t far, maybe a little over a mile, and its low position makes for a comfortable hike, including some gorgeous view over the hilly landscape. It’s the uphill return that’s a killer.
Timeout!!! It’s now two days later and I’ve still not finished this post. It’s all the distractions around here. As you can see, the critters simply won’t let me write in peace. This group of grazing axis deer (Axis axis, Cervidae, native to the Indian peninsula) filled my field of vision when I looked up from my keyboard this morning. Naturally, I had to jump up, sneak around the house to the kitchen porch and shoot, blind, around the corner of the house, past last year’s dried up yucca stalks. They’re skittish, these axis does, if they detect movement, they’re gone. In contrast to this relaxed White-tailed doe (Odocoileus virginianus, Cervidae, native to the Americas), who is better habituated to us, since she and her son have spent the better part of the winter close by.
Sometimes, though, it’s the critters inside the house, which become a major diversion from my tasks – like these tiny lizards, I already evicted numerous times to no avail.
Texas spiny lizard, Sceloporus olivaceus, Phrynosomatidae. Not to be confused with the much wider-bodied Texas horned lizard, commonly referred to as horned “frog”. They’re reptiles, just like little spiny Lizzy above, but they appear like frogs with their round bellies (‘Phryno soma’ means toad body).
And speaking of bellies, this lizard is a male, showing pretty blue scales on his nether regions. The ladies of the species are less splashy in their color choices.
But turquoise or bronze, instead of staying outside in the mesquite trees, where they’re supposed to live, they even bring little friends back inside with them – cheeky little mini-reptiles!
And again, my whole day slipped through my fingers, I just have to finish this post before going into the kitchen to start our dinner. But I wanted to reassure you that as of today, I’ve finished 28 stupid walks in 28 glorious days for a grand total of 94 miles or 151 Km, actually doing my longest walk this very afternoon. I’ve also been very good about my portion sizes and was able to shed seven pounds so far!