Blue Ridge Parkway grandpa my backyard weather

Mountain Dreaming

I was cruising around the backyard yesterday after work, mowing with the Deere and thinking about how unlike a normal early June evening it felt. The temperature was hovering around the 90 degree mark and the heat index was even higher, so naturally my mind wandered up on the mountains…Daydream style as I went round and round.

I see that Ray is calling for a warm summer day in Valle Crucis. The seventies seem a little warm for this early, but I really don’t have a lot of mountain weather experience to go on. Seems nice and cool to me for the heat of the day…I keep telling my wife that no matter what happens with global warming/climate change, it’s gotta be more comfortable up on the Blue Ridge. Besides, when it’s too hot to do anything but sit in a rocker on the porch, at least you have a view of something outside the yard around the house…

I can remember summers on the porch at my grandparent’s ranch house in south Texas…Way down toward the Rio Grande, sitting high and dry between the Frio and the Nueces River in McMullen County. It was hot and dry but with a breeze most of the day off the Gulf of Mexico over a hundred miles away. Staring off into the distance…Watching the clouds winging north. The buzzards coasting along looking for dinner. An occasional roadrunner sitting in the mesquite across the drive with a collared lizard hanging from it’s beak…Watching and waiting for the afternoon heat to break while my grandfather enjoyed his daily siesta. It wasn’t a habit a teenage boy could acquire, napping after lunch.

That’s the way the weather here is feeling these days…Hot and dry…The grass I was mowing was almost like straw already this year. We don’t normally see weather like this for a couple of more months. All of the rains in the last few months have passed by to the north. Even the rains that get close falter before they fall on this dry ground we call home…Dry, dusty dry.

Today is the second anniversary of my Photoblog. Two years ago today I started posting photos with a shot I am still proud of taken at the Brinegar Cabin on the blue Ridge Parkway…I’ll bet the water from the spring is still cool at this time of the year…

family grandpa my backyard

A Sunday in Spring

I thought I’d just drop a picture here…Grandson at the Grandparents in Spring…

Yardwork mostly done…just enjoying the sun.

family grandpa my backstory nature

Snake Tails

In South Texas where my Grandpa Sewell was raised, snakes are a big deal…A really BIG deal. Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes of six feet and longer are common. In the summer and fall 0f 1972, when I lived with my grandparents, we tanned a rattlesnake skin that was over eight feet long and about eighteen inches wide at the widest point. Grandpa was quite proud of the fact that he shot the head off the snake at 20 to 30 yards as it crawled across a right-of-way where his deer stand was located. At least that was the story he told. You have to understand my Grandpa, he was prone to tall tales. He just loved pulling the wool over the eyes of gullible grandkids. His favorite day of the year was April 1. The world was always full of April Fools and he loved every one of them.

The Stick

One of the tales Grandpa loved to tell was of the Rattler we walked up on on the first night my family visited the ranch in the ’60’s.

When we arrived it was already late and the sun was setting. Grandma and Grandpa had just recently had a two bedroom house built but were still using the small hunting trailer for storage. With four adults and four kids we needed bedding for the night. So Grandpa led a small caravan of children on a hike to the trailer for sleeping bags. As we walked thru the dark led by Grandpa and his flashlight he was regaling us with all of the dangers of the night in south Texas. He was telling us about wolves and coyotes, huge owls that could lift a child by the hair, and rattlesnakes. To this day I can remember his words, “You have to keep your eyes on the ground at all times around here ’cause there are rattlesnakes under every bush” and with that he swung the light over and said “there’s one now” and damned if there wasn’t.

“Get me a stick” Grandpa instructed. My two brothers hauled it for the house while I tried to see a stick on the ground around me.

“Here’s one” my sister said as she handed Grandpa a stick.

It was only a matter of seconds before Grandpa dispatched the rattler, then he turned to my sister and asked her, “How did you know that wasn’t another snake?”

Her answer was “I kicked it first”.

Grandpa told that story for the rest of his life…”I kicked it first” was the punch line he loved.

To be continued in…

Waking up a Rattler