Just after I left the office the other day, to first take some photos of dinosaur tracks at The Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country, and then to take photos for a Spring Tour de Sattler bike ride, I saw two hawks soaring above the field across from the office.
Riding a bike is some of the best exercise you can get; and if you are lucky to be out in the country as we are lucky to be here in Canyon Lake – at least some of the time – the bicycling can give you the same return to nature the composer Beethoven loved.
Beethoven spent much time in idyllic nature settings, finding a religious harmony there.
Back to the hawks: I watched the two hawks, and photographed them for several minutes, before driving FM 2673 to the heritage museum.
I had just finished taking photos of the more than 100 million year old dinosaur tracks, and also photos of the farm implements used by the early European settlers of the Canyon Lake area on display at the museum, when I saw another hawk soaring overhead.
This wildness was fitting: modern day wildness flying over tracks left by those huge wild creatures more than 100 million years ago.
When I showed the image of the hawk on the back of the digital camera to the woman who runs the shop at the museum, she said, “Oh, that looks like a red-tailed hawk. You start to see a lot of them this time of year.”
The date was March 7, and it was a lucky date all right.
Perhaps our recent weather is not a False Spring, to use Hemingway’s term, but the beginning of the real spring that will bring an end to this icy and icy-cold winter.
Before I started my bike ride that day, I saw three others doing the same; first a woman peddling east down Sattler Road in Sattler, then a man peddling west on Sattler Road, and then an intrepid bicyclist on a very skinny-tired racing bike moving fast on FM 2673, between Sattler and Startzville.
Finally, when my biking was over that day, and I was relaxing at home, I saw a man and a woman biking down Sattler Road, into the sunset, literally.
Sattler Road is a good biking route, as there are “country” ends east and west of the center of Sattler. The first bicyclist I saw that day was on the eastern end of the “country Sattler Road,” where, if you are lucky, you might see some goats and Longhorn cattle on the property near where Sattler Road joins FM 306.
Going west on Sattler Road, you will find one of the nicest country roads you will find anywhere. If you are lucky, you will see all sorts of birds on poles, in trees and in flight, and cattle, and deer.
When I took a break from my riding that day to take some photographs of the countryside, I spoke with a woman who had parked her car nearby.
We both spoke about how picturesque the scene and weather was that day. We were like two Romantic poets – Shelley and Keats, say – lost in the beauty of the place.
We both said we hoped that idyllic setting would remain the same for many years.
Some sort of trust to make at least some of the land part of Texas public land would be very good.
Heading east on Sattler Road, I took the very quiet Pecan Row towards the Guadalupe River and then got onto River Road and biked for a while before turning back and stopping to take photos at the Fourth Crossing spot where River Road crosses the Guadalupe.
I was a bit surprised at the amount of traffic on River Road on a weekday afternoon; seeing several out of state license plates, with children in the back of SUVs, I figured some were tourist families with kids on Spring Break.
The timing of that ride was perfect.
It was the first day that I began to hear the sparrows really chirping, and the day I saw my first swallow of the year – golondrina in Spanish.
In the spring, swallows return to the Granada Province of Spain, just as the birds return to the famed San Juan Capistrano in California.
Apparently, they pick the same time to return to Canyon Lake.
Before it gets too hot, take some time to get out and have a healthy bike ride, or perhaps a hike or a walk.
I have seen many people out for walks on Sattler Road on the “western country end.” In fact, you might have a better birding experience that way.
Wherever you bike, walk or hike in Canyon Lake, just be careful with vehicular traffic – cars, trucks, or motorcycles.
Use the same advice motorcyclists and bicyclists should always use: just assume they don’t see you.