Sunday Solitude

 

On pleasant days — any day with blue skies, sunshine, calm winds, and moderate temperatures — the beaches of the upper Texas coast range from crowded to over-crowded.

When the weather turns, as it did this weekend, strong southerlies, roiling water, and cloud-shrouded skies empty the beaches. On Sunday, the Kelly Hamby Nature Trail beachfront was empty, apart from a few pelicans patrolling offshore waves and a flutter of songbirds sheltering behind the dunes.

It was, in short, a perfect time to visit its beach.

The force of waves reaching nearly to the dunes had washed the shore clean of debris. Only the heaviest logs rolled and tumbled at the water’s edge.

 

Covered by a thin layer of receding water, the coarse-grained sand reflected sun, sky, and clouds with a pearl-like sheen.

 

Pushed ashore by strong winds, receding waves carved shallow, intricate channels into the sand. Watching the movement of the waves, words from John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flats came to mind:

Time is more complex near the sea than in any other place, for in addition to the circling of the sun and the turning of the seasons, the waves beat out the passage of time on the rocks, and the tides rise and fall as a great clepsydra.

 

Comments always are welcome.
Click any image for a larger size and more detail.

Turtle, Times Two

 

Late on Christmas afternoon, two turtles had trundled up this tiny snag to enjoy the sunshine and the gift of an especially warm day.

Cold-blooded, turtles control their body temperature by basking in the sun to absorb warmth and UV rays. Heat is radiated to their bodies from their shells, but they often will stretch out their legs to collect additional heat. In the photo below, you can see how far their legs are extended, and how they’ve widened their feet to increase the surface area even more.

I usually see turtles lying prone on logs, but these seemed comfortable at about a 60 degree angle. It’s clearly a favored spot. I’ve seen this pair of what I presume to be red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) on the same snag three different times, but this is the first time I’ve caught their reflection in the water.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Just Reflecting

(click image for greater detail)

 

Down on the bayou, when the wind lays and the water calms, even the creatures seem to enjoy the respite.

Here, an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) lazes away the early morning: his chunky profile a notable contrast to the delicate dawn pinks and lavenders reflected around him.

 

Comments always are welcome.