Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Central Parks

 

Autumn hit like a hammer this year. In little more than a week, coastal Texas dropped from blistering 100-degree days to chilly 50-degree nights. In the middle there, if only for a day or two, is perfection.

I took the opportunity to wander the barely beaten trails of a small nature reserve recently secured within Houston’s ravenous outreach. Though my area is not technically part of the big city, most stretches of forest have been cleared as the population bubbles endlessly. Returning to the creeks and wilderness of my youth was a fine October treat.

The larger trails require less care stepping over tangled roots. During the summer, our many snakes (some venomous) might bask in such small pools of unbroken sun. But the cool weather seems to have coaxed them to more open areas.

I saw only two couples on the trails, but thankfully a few critters. This little guy hid among some leaves until I took a step back and crouched. That made him curious.

This one seemed to follow me for half-a-mile before finally landing. I prefer to believe I was followed than that a vast network of butterflies keeps me under constant surveillance.

The Gulf Coast’s subtropical climate ensures we are never short of colorful insects. I left only my hands and face untouched by mosquito repellent, so of course, that is where they targeted. None got me good, at least.

Trails eventually opened to the creek bank, where dozens of plant species compete in untrod sunshine. The branches of a willow-like bush dangled gracefully in a glitter of white seed pods. Beautyberries were ripe for the picking. My family picked blackberries and honeysuckle when I was young.

A moth fanned its wings on a small patch of sand. Many more flitted about.

Bees busied themselves among a wealth of bright daisies. Texas hosts many wildflowers throughout the warm months.

Our own creek did not have such a wide beach when I was young. Otherwise, there might have been a campfire rather than a rope swing. Alas, the water is not as clean as it once was.

For clean water, one must circle back to the small lake. A few families were fishing for bluegill and bass.

A grebe was also fishing. I had hoped to find herons and egrets to photograph, but only saw them upstream while driving past. Only a week ago, I spotted a bald eagle passing overhead. They generally prefer larger lakes than my town can offer, but there are some to the north.

Finally, a red-eared terrapin, such as my brother and I caught as kids. About a dozen basked upon a log. Had our grandpa been around, he might have requested turtle stew.

Spring is still a woodland area with deer and plenty of other wildlife. But the big city rapidly gobbles up all it can, pushing nature lovers farther out. Thankfully, this 25-acre Peckinpaugh Preserve has kept a small taste of the good life for future generations.

Are there any pleasant parks or trails near you?

This post is part of October’s Group Writing series. If you can think of a Trick or Treat to write about, I hear Clifford is offering candy.

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There are 15 comments.

  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Oh Aaron, such beauty. We have reserve areas around us, and the main street of our development has trees on either side that reach out to each other. And in a couple of weeks we will be at the Morikami Museum and Gardens, morikami.org, where it is so beautiful and peaceful. It fills the soul. Thank you so much.

    • #1
    • October 13, 2019, at 8:50 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. Front Seat Cat Member

    Beautiful post Aaron – why did I think you were in Florida? The colors on the moth and patterns are amazing. You have a great eye and camera skills. It is the monarch migrating season – all kinds everywhere – I saw my first zebra butterfly in my backyard. I’ll be very glad to get some of those cooler temps – and rain – please – some rain. It hasn’t rained here in our area of the Panhandle in over two months.

    • #2
    • October 13, 2019, at 9:02 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. Al French, Count of Clackamas Member

    There are plenty of trails near me, as I live less than an hour from the Mt. Hood National Forest. Thursday my brother and I went on a nine mile hike on the south side of the mountain. We were rewarded with this view from Frog Lake:

    • #3
    • October 13, 2019, at 9:15 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    why did I think you were in Florida?

    Probably because previously I have posted pictures of my home away from home: Perdido Key, Florida (on the Alabama border). 

     

    • #4
    • October 13, 2019, at 9:37 AM PST
    • 1 like
  5. Arahant Member

    Aaron Miller: I prefer to believe I was followed than that a vast network of butterflies keeps me under constant surveillance. 

    Don’t be silly. That’s the squirrels.

    • #5
    • October 13, 2019, at 10:08 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Tex929rr Coolidge

    In the Hill Country we had autumn from about 1-6 AM the other day, when went straight to winter.

    Back to mild temps today.

    • #6
    • October 13, 2019, at 11:48 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  7. Jimmy Carter Member

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):
    mini mile hike

    What turns a walk into a hike? What makes something a hike, but not a walk?

    Distance? Place? Terrain?

    Are there places You walk, but not hike? Are there places You hike, but not walk?

    • #7
    • October 13, 2019, at 11:59 AM PST
    • 1 like
  8. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    Hey, take a hike! I mean… 

    The setting/terrain is what I associate with hiking. It’s a walk through wilderness, usually on untamed ground. But I suppose a gravel path up a mountain is still quite a hike. 

    • #8
    • October 13, 2019, at 12:39 PM PST
    • Like
  9. Al French, Count of Clackamas Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Hey, take a hike! I mean…

    The setting/terrain is what I associate with hiking. It’s a walk through wilderness, usually on untamed ground. But I suppose a gravel path up a mountain is still quite a hike.

    Agree.

    • #9
    • October 13, 2019, at 12:58 PM PST
    • 1 like
  10. ShaunaHunt Member

    The mountains are about 15 minutes away from me. We love to drive up Provo Canyon to look at the leaves and wildlife. The leaves haven’t begun turning yet in the valley. We had a deep freeze last week and a taste of winter. Not ready for that yet! 

    I love your photos and you write so well. It’s like I was there with you.

    Here’s what Utah mountains look like right now.

    • #10
    • October 13, 2019, at 1:09 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    The “moth” is actually a buckeye butterfly. You say tomato, I say popcorn.

    • #11
    • October 13, 2019, at 3:17 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Arahant Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    The “moth” is actually a buckeye butterfly. You say tomato, I say popcorn.

    Eh, I figured it wasn’t worth correcting after I had already fed your paranoia.

    • #12
    • October 13, 2019, at 4:08 PM PST
    • Like
  13. Full Size Tabby Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    In the Hill Country we had autumn from about 1-6 AM the other day, when went straight to winter.

    Back to mild temps today.

    Yeah, out here west of Fort Worth we had quite the light and sound show Thursday night into Friday morning that accompanied a drop in temperatures from the low 90’s to the upper 40’s. With the lightning and thunder came our first rain in about 2 months. 

    • #13
    • October 13, 2019, at 4:49 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  14. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    A beautiful post-very evocative. Only in the past year have I started again to hike the nature trails near where I live. I got too busy; I’m on the road all the time. What time I had at home was taken up by chores. I don’t think anything soothes the soul more than a long hike amid nature’s beauty. I hadn’t realize how badly I missed it until I once more hit the trail. Now I go every few weeks.

    • #14
    • October 13, 2019, at 8:57 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  15. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    A post that refreshes! This beautiful photo essay is part of October’s theme: “Trick or Treat!

    Keep it up! Treat yourself and your friends to a post, nothing tricky about it. Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #15
    • October 14, 2019, at 7:09 PM PST
    • 1 like