1/13/2018

Perfect conditions for rapid growth

Nothing like a three-day weekend to stimulate To Do list growth from a tiny seed in the dark, dark soil to a slender, unsupportable, potentially-strangling demand upon my time.

I didn't do it! I didn't trade the cow for the magic beans! It's not my fault!!

The To Do list is ugly, part crossed-through, part scribbled-out, part mustard-stained.  What is the powerful hold it has on me?

Bright sky. Crisp, but no wind. The new boardwalk awaits. I'm already in that neck of the woods. Crumple To Do list and toss it into the backseat. There's a great blue heron standing in the tall grass behind a One Way sign next to the parking lot. Cedar waxwings whine. A wren tsskks. Robins are having a convention.

Gobbling down one final fry I step from the car and head to the new bridge over Rowlett Creek to explore the nature preserve improvements. Didn't expect to be so wowed!
Austin chalk from the new bridge

Wide boardwalk

Bobcat Trail wetland

Birdwatching spot

Tunnel under Spring Creek

The Oak Point rec center

New spot for Go Ape






The boardwalk leads to two watching decks at the primo birding spots near the wetland crossing of Whispering Springs and Bobcat trails. It changes to a wide hard surface trail for bikes leading to a tunnel under Spring Creek Road to the Oak Point Rec Center. It branches off toward the parking lot for the amphitheater. As it goes, it exposes a completely new aspect of the nature preserve.

Thanks to all who created this new gem for the City.

© 2014-2017 Nancy L. Ruder

12/11/2017

Perfect pecan day

A pocket of pecans
Headed on the sunny trail south to the William Dexter Prince Memorial Pecan Grove near the corner of Parker and Spring Creek this glorious noon. Orange leaves drifted down from the creekside sycamores in the light breeze.

One man was collecting a bag of pecans. On weekends I often see whole families collecting in the grove as I drive by on Parker. Maybe it is late in the season.

Filled one pocket with promising pecan prospects, then resumed my walk. No clue what to do with the pecans after photographing. I am a better birdwatcher than a pioneer gal. Cedar waxwing flocks were decorating the big, old pecan trees, but bluebirds and chickadees were also hanging out. It was too nice out to ponder the plural of tufted titmouse.

Cedar waxwings

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The pecan grove


Joy of Cooking said to soak the pecans in boiling water before cracking. Sites online suggested curing, freezing, or roasting. I went with the twenty minute hot soak, while searching for the nutcracker. About half the nuts were empty, or held suspicious contents. The other half smelled delightful when cracked and I managed to pry out broken pecan bits. I've been nibbling them when I pass through the kitchen, and I'm still alive. 


A library patron brings us a jar of candied pecans each Christmas, made with pecans from her yard. My mom's recipe seems a bit different:

Fritzi's Sugar & Honey Pecans

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon  vanilla
3 cups pecan halves

Combine sugar, salt, honey & 1/2 cup water in medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking without stirring to 242 degrees on candy thermometer, or until a little dropped in cold water forms a firm ball.  Remove from heat. Add vanilla & pecans. Stir gently until mixture becomes creamy. Turn onto wax paper and separate pecans with a fork. Let dry. Makes about 1 1/4 pounds.

Sycamore on Rowlett Creek



© 2014-2017 Nancy L. Ruder