Newly arrived in hurricane country, it took time for me to recognize one of the quirkier realities of life on the Texas coast. Prior to a tropical system’s arrival, the weather often is glorious. Good weather provides time to slap plywood on windows or make a final trip for supplies; while it may tempt the unwary into a false sense of security, it gives the already-prepared a bit of breathing room ahead of the storm.
Yesterday was a day to breathe: not only to breathe in the color-rich sunrise and sunset, but also to delight in a blue-sky day arching above the treasures of the beach.
Beach morning glory (Ipomoea imperati)
A Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) enjoying the surf
A Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) sipping from Beach Tea (Croton punctatus)
Washed up ~ perhaps soon to be washed out
Now, the rain bands have arrived, while offshore winds and wave heights are increasing. It’s time to pause, to go inside, and wait to see what will be left in Nicholas’s wake.
Panoramic view of Galveston, Texas ~ Saturday evening, February 20 Photo by Galveston Chaser (Click to enlarge)
A week and a few days ago, winter came to the Texas coast.
Tonight, the snow is gone, the lights are on,
and from a distance Galveston seems to be shining in her accustomed way.
Days and weeks of work will be required to repair the damage,
but, tonight, glasses were raised in tribute to the smaller victories.
It’s the Texas Way.
No, I wasn’t at a wildlife refuge. I wasn’t exploring a bayou, or slogging through a swamp. I was sitting at my desk when I happened to glance toward the marina, and saw the unmistakable profile.
A quick run down the stairs took me to the water’s edge, where light from the setting sun flickered and faded. You never know, I thought. You just never know what you’re going to see — even if you’re only looking out your back door.
By the time I met him, decades of flying among Liberian villages had taught Gene Levan a few things: never to overload his plane; always to make an initial pass before landing (in order to move soccer players and goats off the machete-mown airfields); and to do his own aircraft maintenance.
The dust that he washed off his airplane at the end of each flight varied according to the season and the winds: sometimes red, other times gray, pink, or yellow. During the dry season, red predominated. For a few months, the laterite soil of Liberia coated everything: so much so that one of the better-known books about the country is titled Red Dust On the Green Leaves. But if the red dust was local, other colors on the leading edge of the plane’s wings — particularly yellow and pink — came from the north, from the deserts.
When the Saharan air layer turns south and west, as it does from time to time, my thoughts turn east and north, to the deserts of Africa. Some curse the haze hovering over the Gulf of Mexico and Texas, bemoaning their irritated eyes and dust-covered cars. I bask in the diffuse, lemony light, and remember its remarkable source.