Monday, December 8, 2008

The Lost Maples

When traveling the Hill Country of Texas, the journey is indeed the destination.

When we first began looking for places to visit while staying here, we soon realized that the distances between towns, parks, or sights is much greater than in any of the previous areas in which we stayed. So, we learned to focus as much, and oftentimes more, on the journey than on our destination.

Such was the case when we set out to visit the Lost Maples State Park. At one point on the drive to the park, we came upon this hillside which portrayed the "fall palette," the term I used to describe the range of November colors in the hills.

I think the muted colors have an attraction all their own. The brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows with a bright blue sky are a photographer's dream. However, the subtle shades of burgundy, brown, and rust play well with the greens of the shrubs.

One of the residents whom we met told us that the Hill Country is actually a desert. There is foliage, but trees are not very tall.

This leafless tree looked like the wise elder among a host of apprentices.

When we arrived at Lost Maples State Natural Area, we were greeted by this lone maple. It seemed as though the tree was guarding its last leaves just waiting for the visitors who missed Fall but who would appreciate a glimpse of the tree's best efforts.

The "Lost Maples" that the park is known for are a stand of uncommon Uvalde bigtooth maples, relics from the Ice Age.

Since we missed the explosion of color, we searched out the smaller bursts. This plant seemed to have several more seeds to send out in the wind before winter arrived.

Kate had prepared a lunch of egg salad sandwiches, which we enjoyed along with the company of several Western scrub jays. Like the more familiar blue jay, the scrub jay exhibited an aggressive side. Several cardinals left our company rather than endure the pushiness of the scrub jays.

A short walk after lunch led to a small stream. Like many of the areas in the Southeast, Texas was experiencing a significant water shortage, so streams are mere remnants of their status as rivers.

There was only a handful of people at the park, so it was possible to hear the brook as it traveled over a few rocks.

We left the park and passed this scene. The cliffs were another variation to the landscape of the Hill Country.

We marveled at the trees that were growing on this unwelcoming rocky shoreline.

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