Winter Weather.


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Texas Winter in Austin

Well, Old Man Winter has finally arrived in my part of Central Texas. The weather forecasters told us to expect freezing temperatures as low as 24 degrees and by golly, that is exactly what we got. It is all due to an arctic cold front blowing down from the Northern States which is how we get most of our freezing weather. What we needed when this continent was “born” was a tall mountain range that traversed from East to West and centered somewhere on the borders of Oklahoma to stop this stuff blowing in on us. Unfortunately there is nothing but flat land and nothing to prevent the fronts from blowing through. This is generally how we get most of the cold weather that makes up our so called Winter. We are due for two days of this and then it will warm up again and by Wednesday, it should be in the mid sixties which is pretty good for December.

I took a walk out in the gardens to check on things and as expected, the freeze has really done a number on the garden and pond plants, knocking nearly all of them down. It is going to take quite a bit of cleanup work to chop it all down and stack it on the compost heap. I got away with it last year as we didn’t get a single freeze and the stuff just kept on growing. By the time spring rolled in, the garden and pond plants were already several feet tall and they didn’t stop growing for the rest of the summer.

When the front blew in, it was accompanied by a strong wind which blew for several hours and managed to knock off many of the leaves which had already turned brown and were slow in falling. This was a good thing as with the leaves down and having to get in the ponds to cut down the plants, will give me the opportunity to clean out the leaves already gathered in the bottom. The Koi as cold blooded creatures, generally stop eating when the water gets down below 50 degrees and settle together in one big group at the lowest point of the pond, moving very occasionally but generally not swimming about. The ponds themselves have a lot of moving water as the pumps keep the water circulated and tend not to ice over.

Even though my garden was a green paradise prior to the frost, I see it as a natural order of things kind of an “Out with the old and in with the new” syndrome. One thing Mother Nature will always guarantee is that the majority if not all of the plants will re-grow come the warmer weather in the Spring which for us here in Texas will start at the end of February. I can’t wait for that to happen. Two days of winter is enough for me. I lived in New York State for 10 years and that was more winters than I ever wanted.

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Apologies for my absence


Trail

Trail at the Austin Greenbelt

To all of my readers out there, I must apologize for nor blogging for a month or so. I have quite literally been up to my ears building a new website for my favorite Association, the Austin Pond Society. The last Webmaster had slowly been pulling back from his involvement and I had taken over most of his duties in keeping up the old site. He had mentioned that it was time for a new site with a more modern look to it but that he just didn’t have the time.

I am not a computer geek inasmuch that I am not professionally trained but I have been around computers for the past 20 odd years and have had a couple of websites in the past but nothing to the degree that the Pond Society expected. Being the adventuress sort, I said to myself, “What the hell, all I can do is screw up or I might just succeed” and in my mind, failure was not an option.

Central Texas where I live, has been experiencing some very cold (for us) weather with freezes at night and temperatures in the day not going much above 40 degrees Farenheit with some days even colder than that. Consequently, the attraction for going outside and working in the yard or even going hiking was not very appealing and it wasn’t hard to stay glued to the computer for the last couple of months. Sad to say, I got so involved that I even let slip my work out schedule and barely made one trip a week to the gym instead of every two days.

I chose to build the site using WordPress which is also the site that hosts my blog so the decision was not very difficult. I set up a new account and downloaded a package to get me started. I found a hosting site and also downloaded a Theme which I liked and got to work.

It was a struggle at first and more than a little frustrating as many things I tried would not work and I spent a lot of time debugging my own work. I settled on a format that was also flexible enough that I could make changes as the site grows and spent the next two months almost totally glued to my computers. I even had one computer freeze up on me and had to rush it to the shop for repair work but luckily for me, all of the content was backed up.

Finally, last week, the site went live at http://www.austinpondsociety.org That doesn’t mean to say it is finished. Like all good things, the work is never done as there will be pages to add as the Pond Society goes through its usual annual routine of Speakers at the monthly meetings, Sponsor Night when all of our sponsors have a show and tell, the Plant Swap when our members bring in all of their surplus plants, fish and equipment and swap it out for someone else’s plants, fish and equipment. Everyone goes home happy. The big item will be the Pond Tour that this year that will be held on June 6,7. Following that, the next meeting will be a review of the Pond Tour when many of those that showed their ponds talk about their experiences. The final meeting in November will be our Thanksgiving/Christmas Party when a fun time is had by all. Finally, as the weather warms, there will be hikes and trips to the great outdoors.

So, I have lots of material up ahead to report on both in the new website and also in the Ripples, the quarterly Pond Society newsletter for which I am the Editor, and of course my own blog which I have neglected these past couple of months.

Luckily for me, the weather is going to warm up. After all, this is Texas, the State with the 100 degree summers. This we can rely on with real certainty. Usually, we go from Winter and the small amount of cold that we have to endure directly to Summer. Somehow, we miss out on Spring as it slips by us so fast that we barely notice it probably because it lasts all of two days. Just kidding of course but the temperatures do warm up very quickly.

I can’t wait. I hate the cold which is why I ended up in Texas after ten years of New York State winters. Oh yes, please check the new site out and let me know what you think of it. Criticism or Praise, we all need both.

Maybe, I’ll see you on the hiking trails.

It’s raining at my house…


I have been sitting indoors for these past three days watching it rain. It’s not that I mind the rain as goodness only knows, we need as much as we can get. No, what I mind is that it is bloody cold out there with the temperature in the mid thirties. A few more degrees and I will really hate it as then it will turn into ice rain with freezing roads and stupid drivers. Of course, I have no reason to venture outside other than to check on the ponds to make sure that everything is OK and maybe go to the gym.The ponds  will do fine if it does freeze as all of the water is moving making it difficult for it to ice up. Not impossible but difficult.

This sort of weather reminds me of England in the winter time. This is exactly how it was in my part of the country in the south. Cold, wet and miserable and one of the reasons that I ended up in America. My Mother who was already here after World War 2 wrote to say that it was 80 degrees and was going to be another fine,sunny day.  We were just coming off three weeks of non stop rain. That was enough to persuade my family that we should move.

Playing on a wet field

Playing on a wet field

Normally, I like the rain. I used to enjoy playing soccer out in it especially if the fields were a little wet and muddy. Nothing like sliding after the ball and missing it and continuing on for another ten feet before stopping. I played in one game that would have been more fitting for water polo than soccer as there was so much standing water and mud so thick that it literally sucked your boots off. Any resemblance to soccer was purely incidental. The ball floated in the water and the only way to kick it was to toe punt it and to any soccer aficionado, not the way to play the game. Even so, it was still fun.

In retrospect, the game should never have been played but in England in the winter time, it always rains and the fields are always wet. Besides, what normally happens after tearing up the field on the Saturday is that it rains through the week and the rain  levels the field back out and by the time the next game gets played usually two weeks later (one home, one away rotation) the fields are in great shape and ready to do it all again.

One thing you can always depend on in England is rain…

Look. It’s stopped. Time to head to the gym.

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November Flowers in Austin, Texas


November Flowers from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

I walked around the garden checking the ponds as I usually do several times a day and was struck by the number of flowers, especially roses that are in bloom. This is supposed to be the winter season but it’s very hard to tell that it is. If you are deep into winter wherever you are, enjoy these pictures taken in Austin, Texas in November, 2013.

Oh yeah, the temperature is a warm 70 degrees…

Fall Ramblings


Things are still so green...

Things are still so green…

As I walked around the garden today
a thought occurred to me this way
Texas Fall is very much the same
as Texas Spring in so many ways.
Things are green and everywhere you look
are flowers of many kinds with some
that only flower in the Fall
as other do only in the Spring

The start of Spring is cool and mild
which stays this way for a couple of weeks
but it quickly warms up fast
as temperatures begin to peek
heading towards a hundred degrees
as Summer takes over from the Spring

Fall goes the opposite way
with a slow and general drop
from a hundred degrees to cool at night
as the temperature declines
until a jacket or some other warm clothes
are needed to keep off the chill.

Texas Springs are very short
lasting no more than two or three weeks
and you know when Summer is here
as temperatures are on an upward climb

Texas Fall longer does last
sometimes for a couple of months
enough to fool the plants that are green
until the first frost comes along
and wipes them all out one by one

With a very short Winter
and usually not hard
a frost or two and maybe some snow
that looks pretty until it disappears
and then the process begins
all over as the temperature starts to climb
and Spring is on us just once more.

The first buds start to break out
and plants shoot up from the ground
and some may surprise us in a nice way
as we thought they no longer had life
but left them in just in case
hoping they would grow another day.

Of all of the seasons that Nature provides
Texas Fall is my favorite by far
Things are still green and color abounds
with flowers everywhere and leaves turning brown
and temperatures in a downward climb
to where a jacket at night keeps me warm
but during the day the sun is still hot
enough that shorts and tee shirts are fine.

Snow on the deck...

Very Late Snow on the deck…

I love Spring…


Wisteria

Wisteria

I just love this time of the year when everything is budding out and re-blooming. It’s as though Mother Nature has woke up from her long Winter’s sleep and is ready to share her beauty to the World all over again. Enjoy the video.

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