Monday, February 23, 2009

TLP with TLC

South end of Tahoka Lake Pasture, Tahoka Lake, Texas

A few weeks ago I had hinted that I would be embarking on a special photo adventure. And so I have! Donna and I have been invited to hike and photograph the Tahoka Lake Pasture as part of a team of individuals who are hoping to see this very special place become a state protected entity. We plan to go there every weekend possible for at least the next year. My blog will now be taking weekends off, mostly because when I get back home I can hardly move from hiking and bending all day.

Tahoka Lake Pasture has been in the May family for more than a century. The family owns two and a half sections, or a whopping 1600 acres. Their property encompasses all but the most southerly end of the kidney-shaped salina. (The photo above is just the south end view.)

We have spent two weekends there now and have fallen for it hard. It is a dream come true in every sense for Donna and me. We owe an immense thank you to Burr Williams of the Sibley Nature Center for putting us in touch with Mrs. May, vouching for us as good human beings and dedicated photographers/nature nuts.

This last weekend we had the pleasure of meeting one of the important individuals associated with the future of TLP, Dr. Warren Conway, a waterfowl specialist at Stephen F. Austin University. That sounds really stuffy, doesn't it? Well, he was anything but. Instead he was warm, curious, funny, helpful, and of course, really stinking smart. Donna and I plied him with zillions of questions, and he gave each a thoughtful answer, answers I will be thinking about for some time to come. And I'm happy to report that my training with the 2009 Texas Master Naturalist program has already made me seem smarter than I am when Warren asked about a little weed at our feet. It was one of the exact plants that Burr had given us an impromptu lecture on during our field trip, the "filaree." Although, I'll confess, I botched it by telling Warren it was a "filagree." (Sigh.)

Currently at the lake there are tens of thousands of sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) roosting at night. They will be migrating their way to Canada for their breeding season soon. Luckily that will happen just about the time spring is due to arrive, taking the edge off missing their graceful silhouettes in the sky and their distant trumpeting during the day, things which right now seem as much a part of the lake as the wiry hackberry trees and golden clumps of grass.

I can't count how many times Donna and I have looked over barbed-wire fences with longing, like two kids peering into a candy shop window. We have used our imagination many a time to wonder what it would be like to hike, to photograph, and to experience deep inside one of the vast Texas landscapes that we have seen from county roads. Our trespassing days may be behind us!

We are most humbly grateful to be invited to participate in this amazing place.


jomamma said...

That's awesome! Did you ever get in touch with my brother... He was out of the country for a bit but now he is back.

Bobbie said...

I am so happy for you that you have this wonderful opportunity. I looked up Tahoka Lake on Google Earth as you suggested and it is awesome from the air too.

Is the filaree the same thing grandma used to call "verbena"?

Bev said...

Looking forward to seeing the results:0)