Skip to main content

Bats, Bluebonnets and Breakfast Tacos: A Trip to Austin

Bats

We waited on the bridge, leaning on the handrail, watching the dying sunlight reflect red on the Austin skyscrapers. All along the road and on the banks of the river others were doing the same, and on the river below three or four tour boats wound lazily to and fro. Waiting.

The sun went down. Suddenly there was a flick of something that wasn't a bird. Then another. And then a stream of fluttering black shapes poured out from under the bridge and flew off towards the darkening skyline. If you looked straight down at them, they were merely a blur of speed and a rapid clicking noise, but if you looked out along the river, you could see the cloud of bats forming and swirling and moving on.


Ten minutes later it was over, with only a straggler or two as a reminder of the hundreds that had flown.

Congress Avenue bridge in Austin is home to a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. They breed there during the summer months and there can be up to 1.5 million in August. In March they've only just moved in; still "sweeping the corners and arranging the furniture," as one of the bar staff at TGI Friday's described it to us, so we didn't see so many. But it was still worth seeing.

Bluebonnets

When the pastures are green in the springtime
And the birds are singing their sonnets,
You may look to the hills and the valleys
And they're covered with lovely Bluebonnets.


From "Bluebonnets" by Julia D. Booth and Lora C. Crocket.



The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a beautiful place. It has the feel of somewhere that has been built with care and thought, from the natural materials that fit in with the landscape to the extensive water-conserving features. Most of all, in the springtime, it's an ideal place to see the state flower of Texas, the bluebonnet, as well as several other wildflowers and native plants.


...And snakes! Graham was delighted when a small, brightly coloured snake whisked out from under a rock and back again. It was so quick we didn't get a photo, but I think it was a black-necked garter snake. Later, as we were standing by a pond, a volunteer pointed out to us two ribbon snakes sunning themselves in the reeds. We never would have spotted them for ourselves - it took me quite a while to see them even with her description!


Breakfast Tacos


Scrambled egg, ham or sausage, and grated cheese, served with a couple of soft tortillas and a side of tangy salsa. This is a breakfast taco, and, we read somewhere, is a distinctive Austin food, so we had to try it. We were in Zilker Park at the time, so after a pleasant walk along the river watching turtles, we found a nice little cafe called Austin Java, and sat on the patio with the fountain playing and the sun soft on our backs, enjoying a late lunch. I wouldn't have ever considered eating salsa with egg and ham, but I suppose it's similar to ketchup - anyway, it works pretty well!









Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hell is still hot?

  Sometimes it's good when people say things we disagree with. Not always; it can be irritating, frustrating, or wounding. But sometimes it arouses our curiosity, causes us to examine our assumptions, and sets us off on a trail of new discoveries. So it was when somebody posted this image on Facebook.   It says, in emphatic block capitals: We need preachers who preach that hell is still hot, that heaven is still real, that sin is still wrong, that the Bible is God's word, and that Jesus is the only way of salvation. After my initial reaction of, "We certainly do not! " the curiosity kicked in. What was it about this particular formulation of the Christian faith that I didn't like? If I wouldn't preach that, what would I preach? Given that hell is not a major topic of the Bible, how on earth did we get Christians who think it merits headline billing in the gospel? What's wrong with it? Picking something apart is always the easy bit. I partly object to what

National Forest Way: Final Thoughts

As you may have gathered from my blog posts, I've really enjoyed walking the National Forest Way. I found myself eagerly anticipating each walk, and happily inking the route on the map when I'd done it. The National Forest Way is an ideal starter long-distance walk. There are no enormous mountains or exposed cliff edges. The route is never too far from a village, a car park, or a cafe. But there are some lovely views over sunny fields, some beautiful patches of woodland, and some industrial history along the way. I very rarely found it boring.   An advantage that I didn't appreciate when I started is that the Way forms a giant zigzag. This means it fits 75 miles of path into a relatively compact space, making it easy to reach all of it. From my home in south Derbyshire, every section was within a 40 minute drive. The distance between Beacon Hill and the National Memorial Arboretum is only about 25 miles. The countryside is lovely, and generally overlooked in favour of the P

Interior Castle: Spiritual Formation Book 11

"We cannot enter by any efforts of our own; His Majesty must put us right into the centre of our soul, and must enter there Himself."   St Teresa of Avila reluctantly began to write Interior Castle (or The Mansions ) in 1577, complaining that "this writing under obedience tires me and makes my head worse". She set herself to the task of explaining her vision of the soul being like "a castle made of a single diamond... in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions".  Her writing is engaging but dense; I found it difficult to read more than about ten pages at a time. She also has a habit of introducing terms like favours or intellectual visions and talking about them for a while, before finally defining what they mean several chapters later. This gets confusing. On the other hand, St Teresa is good at thinking of illustrations to explain what she means. She frequently exclaims that these visions are impossible to describe to any