September 22nd, 2007

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Not 24 anymore

Or even 34, 44, or 54. 

Let me tell you, it's embarrassing to fall on your backside trying to get up from a crouched position (I was photographing a snail, OK?) in front of someone young, slim, and energetic who is dressed in the latest (I guess) Serious Outdoor Style and has come to check out your place for a formal field trip from an Audubon Society group.  I had stuff in one jeans pocket and a pack on my back, and I just didn't heave forward enough to get up without...splat. 

She arrived before noon.  Personally, I'd have preferred early morning, but it's been made clear to me that this is a busy person with many other things going on.  I am not being sarcastic.  I know what it's like.  So we didn't start out until probably 11:30 am, on a cloudless (to start with), HOT, MUGGY day.  Hardly any breeze for the first hour or so.  Hour or so?  Oh, yeah, over three, almost four hours in the field.  

Now--I can lead you on a walk on the same trails and we'll get it done in an hour, maybe hour and a half.  But not if you're stopping and standing in the sun to consult one of several guide books and write down the result right then and there.  That takes longer.  It takes longer, in part, because I got too hot and thus had to rest longer when we did get to shade.  (Note for nonTexans...the native Texan of mature years--that would be me--learned early that you don't stop and stand in full sun in the heat of the day to consult your guidebooks and maps and make notes.  You stand or squat in whatever shade you can find (in south Texas, any plant you can stand up under, in the shade, is considered a tree; to get in the shade under a bush you have to squat) and do your consulting/writing there. 

On the other hand, thanks to her desire to notice things (in the heat of the day I prefer to notice things only in the shade....) we saw stuff I would not have noticed.  A green lynx spider on a purple eryngo, for instance.  A Cooper's hawk sailing over the west woods.  The migrating oriole in the south creek woods.  Etc.    And she's a delightful person who knows a lot of the same stuff I do.  Plus some stuff I don't know, which is always good.  She spotted another (the same?) longear sunfish in the upper part of the creek.  Hurray!  

I found it interesting that once in the creek woods, on the eastside trail, where it was dappled to dense shade, she seemed less at ease than standing out in the sun, and had lost her sense of direction, thinking we were going east when we were going (more or less) north.   I have to remember that my own trail sense is not universal...I inherited part of it and learned some stuff from my mother, and also developed it while hiking in eastern forests.   It would be asking for trouble to say "I don't get lost" but basically...I have a good feel for land, and I can backtrack easily.  Trees do not all look alike to me.  Nor rocks.  And I'm usually pretty clear about where I am in relation to where I started.   Cities give me more trouble than natural land (which Burger King is this?)  and I actually got lost in Oslo by trying to cut across to a particular tram stop from down near the harbor rather than retracing my route (I'd retraced twice; I figured I  could wing it.  I was one block off.   But I'd been in Oslo less than a week at that point, so that's not too bad.  I had no trouble in Barcelona. 

Anyway.  I now need to make a trail map for the group that's coming.