Late September brought the first heavy rains of the year, at last refilling the dried-up slough and old river channel in the pecan orchard area. With all this rainfall, I heard the nearby river was up several feet, so I was anxious to hike to the leased property to the west as soon as the weather cleared and cooler temperatures made for a comfortable walk. The neighbor’s cattle have eaten or tromped down many of the tall plants and vegetation in that area, leaving me a clearer path to the river. And soon, the snakes would disappear for the winter so I would not have to worry about them. Finally, after a week of waiting for the perfect weather, I ventured out for a hike to the river. I was also hoping to scout around for any signs of trespassers or poachers on the leased property and get a look at any potential flood damage.
Setting out on my trek, I was a bit dismayed at having to walk all of the way to the west end of our property. Normally, I would have the electric buggy to transport me through the orchard, but there have been problems with it the last couple of months and it was still at the mechanics shop. Walking all of this distance caused me to realize how much I had relied on my wheels the last years. And this year I had really gotten lazy after my trip to Germany. Since I knew I would be in Berlin for more than two weeks, I did not have big vegetable gardens, and with the drought, there was not nearly as much mowing to do. Now, I was not able gather wood or clean up in the orchard without my buggy, and a burn ban left me without any way to burn the debris I might have collected in the orchard. Given these circumstances, I was a little put out that only one summer of cutting back on physical work could make my body so soft. I felt less agile than usual climbing over barbed wire fencing, and wondered why I kept turning my ankles on uneven sections of ground. Was I simply out of shape from taking a year off of my usual work, or was I getting older and less agile and unable to push myself as I used to?
But as usual, nature provided just what I needed to keep my mood happy and delighted. I spotted various treasures along the way, finding bones and other interesting things to photograph. I ventured over the fence to the river where I realized I might have been a little too early to make my way very far into the boot of the winding river. I didn’t get far into the opening of the boot before tangles of vegetation kept me at bay. It was simply too thick to venture closer to the river, so instead, I walked the edge of the snarl along animal trails and down a small pathway that led me into a darker canopied area where mud and newly fallen leaves carpeted the woodland floor. Oddly, I could feel the power of the rising river waters and felt this just wasn’t a good time for me to venture any further. Heeding my inner gut feeling, I headed back and out of the boot. I traveled south along the outside of the boot instead, where I discovered more bones, bugs, and beauties of nature. Four hours later, I emerged from the river area and began making my way back towards home.
And then in my reverie of quiet, gentle walking, I was startled when, out of nowhere, I spotted the quick movement of a snake as it bolted in front of me! I stood frozen, and not even a scream released from my mouth! Suddenly, I realized this was a coachwhip snake, which I had only seen one other time in my life. The one I had seen before was in Daisy deer’s pen, and I often found it sunning itself near the old barn in early morning. The coachwhip is a rather beautiful snake, having a pattern much like a braided rope, and are super fast in their movement. This snake did not disappoint in putting on quite a show! I saw it for only seconds, but it was the way the head darted up, as if to attack, that scared me before it quickly dove into thick, tall grasses! What a rustling of noise it made as it powered into the weeds! No longer was I gracefully moving along, but I had more of a quick gait in my step. The coachwhip gave me just the boost I needed to finish my hike home!
In the weeks following, more rain fell and the river rose to coming out of its banks in a few places. I imagine the path I took that day is a mucky mess now. And perhaps some of the bones and treasures I found or photographed no longer remain. This is what I love about nature and all of life. It is ever-changing, offering adventure and mystery at every turn.
© 2018 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…