Sunday, March 9, 2008

Brush Country

This weekend I went for a long overdue visit to my sister and her husband at their home, a cattle ranch outside of Encinal, 4o miles north of Laredo. When you are traveling at 70 miles an hour on I-35, this countryside looks bleak and featureless. But when you are on foot, walking through it, you see why many people come to develop an attachment for this land. Its beauty is intricate, elusive, and always comes with brutal thorns. Hunters love it and this area is one of the most coveted regions in Texas in which to hunt (it's where Dick Cheney had his shooting mishap). For my sister, Janet Krueger, who is the current Texas State Artist, the brush country and its culture is a central theme of many of her works.One of my favorite pastimes when I visit the ranch, is taking long walks to observe the land, its vegetation, and the sightings of critters.

Janet with cactus, an heirloom she brought from our mother's garden.

Flowering black brush acacia at left.

Black brush closeup; smells great.

Amargosa, pretty evergreen and armed with long thorns

Black brush and prickly pear


An arrowhead with broken point

Guayacan, which resembles prostrate rosemary, even has little blue flower (plus thorns...)

Century plant agaves

Skeletons of past century plant blooms

Aptly name, All-thorn or “Corona del Cristo”.

There is a caracara nest at the top of this ladder. This is very large raptor, sometimes called the Mexican eagle. In flight, the bird is beautiful with striking black and white markings. I climbed up the ladder to see if the mother was there. Yes, I'm an idiot. Once I saw she was there, I realized why she was not concerned. Her beak could probably have coldcocked me with one blow.

So of course, once up there, I attempted to get a shot. If you blow this up you can just see her beak to the right of the top of the large stick.


Anonymous said...

Interesting pics of a part of Texas I'm not too familiar with. Wow, that bird!

And wow to your sister's paintings. They're amazing. Does she ever exhibit her work in Austin? I'd love to see a show.

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vertie said...

Thanks for the raptor photo and the laugh. Glad you didn't get coldcocked!

Diana said...

Great post! Believe it or not, I've spent some time in Encinal! We used to hunt at a company ranch about 20 minutes from there. I was always struck by the raw and rugged beauty of the area -- something others might not see at first glance. And I'm not sure I've seen many things more beautiful than when all the cacti are in bloom out there, dotting the expansive landscape with pearls of purple and yellow. I'm so glad your shared it with people who might never get to see or appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's a big one...nest and beak! Thank you for that tour!

Unknown said...

What a great landscape. And that bird beak is just scary.

cotedetexas said...

WOW~!! Great post! I love that part of the state - we drive to S. Padre island every summer and go through the King Ranch. It's a different part of the world. It makes me laugh when the pols talk about puttin a fench on our border!!!

wish you took pix of the house!