Shells the size of pennies

There was one there already — a Great Egret. As I looked south, down the Guadalupe, I saw three more of the elegant white birds. Their necks started to form question marks as they relaxed and settled in. And then the egret closer to me flew to its siblings. It was replaced by its cousin the Great Blue Heron, which landed on the light-colored rock you see in the center-left of the photo. The tranquility of this place is better told in gray-scale tones than in loud color.

I had heard about this river access from Karen, who heard about it from a neighbor where we live. Apparently, not many people from our housing development know about it. Residents can enter through a gate with a combination lock that gets hot quickly in this sun we all know well. I must confess, while I’d feel somewhat unneighborly if we lived in a gated community, for some inconsistent reason I have no problem having resident-only access to this part of our amazing river. I can list multiple reasons that would sound justified to me (e.g. not wanting to be around loud music), but truth be told I’m getting older — something I’m told happens quite often — and there’s no getting around my being kind of snobby and elitist about this aspect of Hill Country life. I’m going to lean into it.

The photo here was taken shortly after I entered the area, having been the only car there, and walked down onto the treacherous and unstable bleached limestone rock to take a closer look. I’d forgotten the water shoes that Karen had reminded me to take, and since I didn’t want to swim in my sandals, I ventured out in bare feet.

The water closest to the shoreline and maybe an inch deep, was probably close to the air temperature of 93 degrees and uncomfortably warm. I told myself it would be easier once I went a little deeper. Soon enough I found myself walking on hundreds of small shells, each the size of a penny, and I remembered it was one of these shells that my son Teak had landed on when jumping into a different and deeper area of the river. The shell ripped his heel open and ended his summertime swimming weeks ahead of the school year. Cuts take longer to heal for a 58-year-old, and I didn’t want to be dry-docked until I started taking out IRA contributions to pay for getting the stitches removed.

I told myself the river bottom would get better soon.

It didn’t.

Small shells gave way to sharp rock and then more sharp rock of a different kind before the water depth even hit six inches. Not only did I wish at this point to have my water shoes, but even my sandals would have sufficed, since the closer I got to the middle of the river, the more it appeared that the darker areas were not indicative of depth but rather of greater concentrations of river moss. [Note to readers, especially those who are from Kerrville: I Googled in vain a more exact or even correct description of what I call “moss.” If I am wrong and you blow up the Comments section below, I must warn you I will be tempted to cook up some egret tenders, and then we will be even-steven.] Therefore, I wouldn’t be able to swim and take the weight off my feet, the heels of which became more and more like cannon fodder to the penny-sized shells waiting for their victim. The underwater terrain was to my soles like free-solo climbing the limestone bluffs would be to my palms.

When I reached the point of turning back, I made a decision to go home and get my river shoes. I had been toying with the idea at almost each step.

In my mind were two paths: “This is so beautiful. I want to get the river shoes and come back.” Or, “This is so beautiful, but (I’m lazy) and I don’t want to make the effort to go get the shoes and come back.” I chose to get the shoes.

This was an uncharacteristic decision, since typically I would have called it a day — a short one — and told myself, “Note to self: next time bring river shoes.”

But yesterday was a “today” that flies as effortlessly as a heron, and one doesn’t know when one will next see a heron like yesterday.

Creation in a new light

Since February 1 of this year, I’ve been taking photos from our backyard looking northwest. More precisely, it’s probably west-northwest.

I take each photo ten minutes after sunrise. Sunrise on February 1 was 7:35am Central Standard Time, and sunrise today was 6:52am Central Daylight Time.

I’ve titled this series — which by no means includes each day but rather does include multiple days from each week since the start — #10MinutesAfterSunriseInTexas. If you go to Instagram and do a search for similar posts, you might find a series called “10 minutes after sunrise,” but there are only four such photos, and they don’t announce mornings in the great state of Texas but rather in places like Maine, where the sun actually rises only about seven days a year, in late June.

So I became interested in what I could learn about the sunrise here.

Previously, only a spectacular sunrise or sunset would earn my attention. It dawned on me that because I pick and choose what I want to see, I might be missing something even more spectacular.

See these two galleries below, followed by an observation I had. I’ll save others for later.

  • Gallery 1 is four photos from the first half of February. (Earliest is upper left and moves clockwise to later dates.)
  • Gallery 2 is two photos from the first half of February contrasted against two from the first half of May. (Earliest is upper left and again moves clockwise.)

To the naked eye, we can see differences, especially when sunrises are separated by a few months.

The camera — machine #1 — picks up differences further still. One day, I was sure it was an overcast-gray only. But the camera picked up more blue than I had noticed. The camera didn’t operate on preconceived notions about what it wanted to see.

It just reported.

Then, I added a second machine to see what I might be missing and to “say” what the camera didn’t have the tools to.

Adobe Capture is an app that allows you to create various patterns from photos. It also can compile a “swatch” of five colors that it deems dominant in that photo.

The series on the left is from early February — February 1 at top, February 14 at bottom. The series on the right, like the gallery, shows the first two February photos at top and the last two May photos at bottom. Move the vertical slider back and forth by clicking and holding the “< >” to compare and contrast.

On left is a machine impression of the February photographs. On the right is a machine impression of the first two February photographs (on top) and two photographs from this month (on bottom).

There are six conclusions I’ve made so far from looking at the photos over time, not through my eyes but through the eyes of two unbiased machines, that of my camera and Adobe Capture. I’ll share just one for now:

The sun doesn’t make the difference; the clouds do.

This was my problem at the start. My idea of a “great” sunrise or sunset not only was that it was sunny, creating a “golden hour,” but also that it was brilliantly so. Nothing wrong with that, granted.

But it is the clouds, playing off the sun, that create various shadows and shades of blues, browns and greens that I had missed until I filtered them through these two machines.

#10MinutesAfterSunriseInTexas is my way of seeing creation in a new light.

More to come.


The western sky yesterday from the Loop 534 bridge. And, no, I should not have been taking this while driving.

As you’ve no doubt seen from past posts, which may have featured a photo of it as mere eye candy, the sky here is dramatic. It plays the lead, not a supporting, role. Its soliloquies — torrential rain, blood-orange sunsets, glowering clouds — are heard as baritone declarations and soprano descants.


I told her that this was the first time I could recall feeling sad when the opposite team’s student body cheered after scoring, in a town where I didn’t go to high school.

But we won.

The sky here is different


It was apparent when I first moved here that the sky was different.

The sky here is open, clear at night, peaceful as though it were a parent listening to the tittering of its countless children below–an amused smile escaping from its cloud face.

New York’s sky was closed–the supertall buildings stretching up like stiff serpentine tentacles, threatening to yank down those who dared look beyond them to catch a glimpse of that smile that was waiting for them, who dared seek an embrace from their heavenly parent. The city sky at night, rather than clear, was a mirror to the activity below: it seemed that all the turmoil of the streets and rooms and offices could not, like energy, be dispersed, but rather was trapped within the zoo-bars those same supertall buildings constituted, creating a cage. Bridges and tunnels were sentries: guarding the entrances and, more importantly, the exits.

The sky here is different.

Some colors


It caught my eye Sunday–a latte-colored station wagon crossing Sidney Baker toward Lowe’s. Good thing we were headed that way anyway, because I was intent on seeing it up close.

It pulled in to the lot, and I pulled around near it to park. That is, I circled the entire lot until an SUV next to it pulled away so I could park right here.

“Is this creepy?” I asked the person riding shotgun. There was an inaudible reply.

She–Inaudible Shotgun Person–went into Lowe’s to do some actual good for the homestead, while I took a photo of the vehicle, a Chevy Nova wagon, white roof and a rain gutter, which would be perfect to affix surf racks onto except that I wouldn’t want to lessen its sleekness. (A Chevy Nova…”sleek”? Yes, sleek.)

A bumper sticker read, “RIDE OLD BIKES.”

The glass was flat and had a Mediterranean blue-green clarity to it. I half-expected the driver to be a sea turtle.

teal wagon

I saw a car today on Bandera Highway heading in the opposite direction, so instead of trying to take a photo out the driver’s side window doing an apparent speed of 90mph away from me–that’s not advisable, right?–I found online what was roughly the color of it.

Some colors should be kept around simply because they’re cool.

Popping pick-ups and paywalls

Saturday morning round-up of Things That Don’t Really Deserve A Separate Post But Which I Wanted To Mention.

Each has the import of a sentence of mostly initial capital letters.

First there is this photo of a red pick-up truck, which I converted to black and white, since a photographer once told me that the color red can really pop when seen in BxW.

Red pick-up in front of “Olympic” pool on Singing Wind Drive.

Doesn’t that “color” really pop? Very cool.

Speaking of color, the bush out front of our house–which I learned was a sage bush–not our house, that is, but the bush (thank you, dangling modifiers)–sprung into summer action after the rain the other day.

It bloomed a few days later:

Photo taken with Focos
Detail of sage bloom. Busy bee at work.

Y’all know that this blog tries to keep to BxW photos (or sepia, silvertone, etc.), but that bloom was vibrant. I forgot to take a comparative photo last night, when the fuchsia had turned lavender or muted purple. Suffice to say, that the bloom had gone off the bush; the bees had returned to their Queen.

Back to black and white.

For those who really wanted to see the broken down drunk grandfather of a shed, sitting in his yellowing boxers in the living room chair:


You have to admit–well, I’d like you to admit with me–that it kinda belongs there now. Let him sleep it off. He’s sitting off Friendship Lane on the south side, just west of Walmart.

And last, but certainly not least, there was the article that appeared today in the Kerrville Daily Times about Karen and her art, but it’s behind a paywall. (How I hate paywalls. They are evil. Make the content free and pay for it with ad revenue; people don’t subscribe to diddly squat anymore. If I put this blog behind a paywall, how many of you 8 readers would pay?! See?)

Go to my Facebook to read the article and see the photos.

Y’all come back.

Monday breakfast

Hong Kong is a fun–if challenging and hamstring-building–city to walk in. There are sudden gardens and parks and winding alleyways, which seem to lead to nowhere, until you stumble upon a open-front cafe with friends gathered around a common table, smoking cigarettes and laughing about their day.

This is an alley adjacent to my hotel. You have to pay attention as you walk the narrow sidewalks, because you might miss a shortcut between streets. Up and to the left is Coffee By Zion on First Street. It’s where I am now for Monday breakfast.