LAGNIAPPE – a littla this, a littla that

March 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm (Big Bend National Park TX) (, , , , )

Sunrise on Winter’s Last Day, with Persimmon Mt. to the right
*Big Bend had a little retirement party a couple of weeks ago for a veteran employee.  His uniform was a little scruffy and he needed a shave, but he was adored just the same.  Jeep, one of the park trail horses, was headed for a well-deserved rest, and the send-off was superb.  The park superintendent even presented his retirement plaque, which was signed on the back with good wishes.   The school children turned out for the ceremony, speeches were made, a song was sung (by me) and carrots and brownies were served with iced tea. 
The song was inspired by one written by a cowboy in 1901 for his horse Chopo, and sung and arranged by Rod Taylor who performed at the Cowboy Poetry Festival in Alpine.  I rewrote some of the verses, and apparently Jeep approved because he let out a huge whinny during the song.  Jeep’s replacement is a small pony-sized white horse-with-no-name, and the kids will probably have a good time trying to find a name that fits him.
Javelinas in housing area – ain’t they cuuuute?
I saw Venus in broad daylight a couple months ago.  I had my binoculars trained on some far-off swifts and spied a very bright point of light.  It wasn’t a jet glistening in the sunlight miles above the earth.  It wasn’t even moving.  I took away my binoculars and couldn’t see it at all.  It was sheer luck that I had found Venus in the middle of the day.  I later learned that if it is far enough away from the sun like it was then, one can find it in midday if one knows where to look.
George and Gracie

Gracie, one of our resident ravens, had disappeared from her night roost with George, and he was coming around the Entrance Station without her.  This went on for about a month.  Doug says this happens every year about this time, and likely Gracie has been sitting on a nest somewhere.  I was feeling sorry for George, since he seemed so lonesome and out of sorts, and I thought something evil had this way come for Gracie.  But she’s been back, and I’m wondering if there will be little Georges and little Gracies around the Entrance Station any time soon.

*Heard on park radio:  “What is the park policy regarding nudity in the backcountry?”  Reply:  What site are you referring to?   (Imagine everyone glued to the radio for answer…)
*At the Entrance Station:  Guy presented an Access pass and when I asked for ID of the passholder he held up a small bulky envelope with the woman’s name on it.  “Here she is,” he said.  She was on her way to being scattered in the park.  My son has been asked to scatter my ashes around Mt. Rainier, but I may have him save some for Big Bend.
Terlingua Ghost Town Cemetery
Spring Break lasts two weeks.  The first week was rather mild, and my cousin and her husband from Bridge City visited.   Second week is when most schools and colleges in Texas were on break, so it was hectic.  I know we’re spoiled, because our brief Spring Break pales in comparison to the everyday crowds in parks like Yellowstone.
I got Religion.  The Order of the Iron…I am a lapsed Ironer, but the realization that my uniform needed creases brought me back into the, er, fold.  I also had my eyebrows plucked for the first time in my life by the Holy Order of Mary Kay.  I was determined to buy only cleanser at the Mary Kay party, but then I had to go for the tinted moisturizer, then the mineral powder.  Later added eye shadow and rouge.  When in Texas, do as the Texas gals do….Can’t say for sure it’s a great improvement, but at least I’m making the effort!
Yucca at Entrance Station March 13
Wildflower season won’t be so good this year, since we’ve had no rain to speak of since Labor Day or thereabouts.  The February freeze nipped some of the early bloomers in the bud, as it did the huisache tree at our apartments.  It also wrecked the palm leaves and river cane. But there are some compact mounds of yellow flowers starting to show on the roadsides.  A few yucca,including the one at the Entrance Station planted in 1995, are blooming.  I hope the cactus put on a good show again this year.
Our yucca March 19

It’s nearly 90 degrees in the shade – and it’s the last day of winter!

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