Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: fall

Ragweed Time

As much as I love fall in Austin, there’s still one part I never look forward to: the ragweed/fall elm gauntlet that gets me every year. Just as the weather turns nice and I’m ready to get outside and enjoy it a little, the autumn allergies have me running for the indoors. Some years it’s not so bad, but this year has seen especially high counts. According to the Statesman, yesterday’s count was the highest it’s been since they started keeping records in 1997.

It was back in the late ‘90’s that the Austin allergies finally got me. They get most everyone eventually, but for most people it’s the December/January cedar that gets their noses running and their eyes itching. I typically don’t feel the cedar unless it’s especially high. Still, live here long enough and you’ll develop allergies to something.

I visited an allergist about 10 years ago and got the full battery of tests. I asked, “What would be the most effective thing for me to do?”

He pulled down a map and pointed to Alaska. “Move,” he said. “Your allergies won’t give you problems in Alaska or…” He considered it a moment and then pointed to Florida. “Key West.”

I’m still in Austin, obviously. It’s only a month. Mid-September to late October and then just as fall really hits, my nose will clear, my eyes will dry and all will be good. I can’t win these battles with Mother Nature and so I just hibernate, limiting my outdoor time to short walks with the pups. And, of course, ACL Fest for which I will pay a hefty price next weekend when the ragweed gods will claim their pound of snot.

Autumn Falling (Or So They Say)

Fall begins tonight, at least that’s what They say. We’ve got some summer days ahead (though not everyday), but I’m excited even if it is like Christmas without snow or cold. There are many reasons to love fall in central Texas even if the leaves don’t change colors like they do up north.

Maybe it’s the light and the way it changes in the fall as the sun follows those migrating birds south. There is too much light here five months of the year. Everything seems blasted, washed out and flat. Photographs with white skies. The autumn light throws things into sharper relief so everything around jumps out, though it was all there all along, hidden in the haze of light that melts everything it touches into flatness. There are discoveries to make this time of year now that the heat no longer blinds.

Maybe it’s the southbound migrants passing through and the winter residents arriving. The orange-crowned and yellow-rumped warblers, the chipping sparrows and kinglets coming back. Fall and winter are great times for birding here since as many species are coming as going. So long, scissor-tails, swallows and kingbirds. Hello, ducks.

Maybe it’s the simple fact that being outside is enjoyable again. Now that fall is upon us, the weather is finally beginning to change just ever so slightly. It’s still humid but the heat behind that humidity is down, and I can once again enjoy creeping out of my air-conditioned cave to enjoy the world.

Most days, I take a walk at lunch. It’s an even mile around the facility where I work and, and I like to walk that mile. It’s good to see the weather and hear the birds, to feel sun and wind in the middle of a day spent in a windowless classroom. It recharges me for the afternoon and lets me unwind as well. When the planet begins to skirt close to the sun as it does in late April, my walks stop and usually don’t resume until mid-September since I can’t stand returning to class sweaty and smelly. I took my first lunch walk of the new school year yesterday, enjoying the calls of the killdeer that live in the fields around the building.

Those walks are the source of many of the micro-poems I post at (the new and improveda gnarled oak so the micro-poems, like many of our plants, dry up a little in the summertime. So does a lot of my writing. I don’t know why, but it’s better to write when the world is cooler and darker. It seems there’s more to say, more of a need to say it. A fall bloom, if you will.

When I was in high school in New England, spring was such a joy. An annual awakening that seemed to lift everyone from the darkness. Here in Texas things are turned around. Here, it is autumn that awakens as I find myself celebrating the release from the blazing light and heat. Excited again by the opportunity to reconnect with the outdoors.

Or maybe it’s just football.

Whichever way, it’s fall. Time to get outside again.

This post was inspired by Lorianne and Heather whose posts about fall got me looking forward to fall here even though it doesn’t feel that fall-like most days.


Saturday morning was perfect for walking the trails around the neighborhood. I started at the pond, enjoying the way the early light struck the trees from low in the east.

The ducks had come back to the pond after summering in northern climes. A great egret and a great blue heron also came by to catch the scene and probably a few fish as well. A turkey vulture and a low-flying helicopter also made appearances.

After the pond, I walked up to the little nature preserve I discovered back in August. Even though Texas isn’t known for its autumn show, it still felt that way with leaves falling like golden snow while the cobalt sky blazed in that special autumn way beyond the branches, growing more naked with each gust of wind.

I watched the path more than anything, though, listening to the sound of my feet crunching the leaves into next summer’s mulch.

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