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“I think we are bound to, and by, nature. We may want to deny this connection and try to believe we control the external world, but every time there’s a snowstorm or drought, we know our fate is tied to the world around us.” Alice Hoffman

This isn't how a willow tree is supposed to look. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

From the heights of the morning’s glorious Texas sunrise, my first since mid-April, my journey to just north of Austin descended into horrifying reality of the drought the state has been suffering.

The sights hit me especially hard when I left Interstate 10 to follow Highway 190 for over 200 miles.

The scorched earth, brown and dying cedar trees, total lack of grass and yellow and stunted cactus were hard to stomach.. While I had been luxuriating beside a lake enjoying a mild Idaho summer, my native Texas had been suffering record temperatures without rain.

My Texas family had frequently informed me that this was so, but seeing it still broke my heart, especially when I saw skinny deer wandering the roadside huddled around one small patch of grass. It was very close to the road, and the deer stayed nearby instead of scampering away as my RV approached.

Laughter is not a bad thing when faced with hard times.

It made me glad I was traveling a lonely stretch of highway, especially since a bit farther on I passed two deer that had given their life for staying too close to the road. The turkey vultures seemed to be the only ones prospering on the landscape.

At my oldest son’s home in Harker Heights, I found his usual green lawn brown, and the limbs of the vibrant willow tree in his back yard scantily clad. And today, the water pipes buried in his front yard sprung a gigantic leak.

“It’s happening a lot all over the place,” said the plumber, who was too busy to come until the next day. As the landscape dries, it shifts around, often breaking things in the process.

Even Maggie noticed how things were different. A bit of a tenderfoot, she found the stiff dry grass on the edges of the road we walked not to her liking.

I watched as she carefully place one paw down, and then looked for a softer spot to place her next step. When she didn’t find it, she quickly came back onto the paved road to continue our evening walk.

In some places, this beautiful lantana plant is considered an invasive weed. It looked awfully good to me, however, when all else was suffering from the drought. -- Pat Bean

My daughter-in-law, meanwhile, has still managed to maintain a bit of color around their house. Her backyard flower bed , filled with what she called hardy plants, hinted that all was not lost.

 As I looked out on them this morning, I saw house wrens playing among the blossoms, while bright cardinals, finches, mockingbirds and sparrows visited the yard as well.

. I think they liked the color, too. And perhaps the bird feeders scattered about the yard as well.

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