May 15th, 2005

abstract butterfly

singing birds

When I woke up, the rain was gone. My wife, a bit under the weather from a persistent/recurrent Spring cold, slept in. I ate my raisin bran and loaded up to go to Park Hill Prairie. I stopped for bait and accessories in Farmersville, and then headed on to the ponds. The weather was gorgeous at first, then a touch windy, but in general wonderful. I caught fourteen sunfish, standing in solitude, with the park to myself. Only two were large enough to keep and I released all of them in any event. Then I began to hike in the knee-high tallgrass prairie on the trail, where I saw thousands upon thousands of wildflowers--white and pink primrose, yellow/orange Indian paintbrush, white "bells" of a type I don't recognize and broad-faced yellow flowers, admixed with Queen Anne's Lace. I walked in the tall grass, and enjoyed the sounds of meadowlark and other calling birds. On the drive back, down a remote country road, I saw the Arnold Community Center, a rural wedding reception retreat in a tiny old church, and I also had to brake to yield to an energetic tortoise.

I also got a chance to stop by the McKinney Towne Lake Park, where I hiked the nature trail. In contrast to the open grass/flowers and scraggle trees of the prairie park, the Nature Trail in this riparian area featured a deep canopy of honey locust trees, along with sycamores and burr oak. I stopped by the community center about a chess room, but found their price was steeper than I was hoping to pay. The kind man there, though, suggested I try the Holiday Inn, and after reviewing its website, I may do just that.

I took our dog for a walk by our local Glendover Pond. We saw ducks, and an Alaskan husky puppy with those wonderful, alive husky eyes. A friend brought over a wonderful book. My wife watched "Cold Mountain",which I saw intermittently, because although I liked it in many ways, it was just too sad and harsh. But I know they were sad and harsh times, because our own community's Civil War history is similar.

Long ago, I bought the Fritz chess computer program, which will not only play one a game, but also analyze the moves from games one has already played, move by move.
I finally loaded it onto my computer tonight, and made the moves for each of my four games so that it could review them. I found that in one game, I picked its suggested "best move" most of the time, while in the game I lost, I picked pretty much the worst move on the board a time or two.

Tomorrow I get more exercise, and see an old friend.
abstract butterfly

White bass

Today I got up early to join my friend G. for a morning hike at Cooper Lake State Park, near Sulphur Springs, roughly 80 miles from my home. Sulphur Springs is a town of 14,000, and features an Ocean Spray cranberry factory.

Cooper Lake is a gorgeous large lake. I arrived about 8:15 a.m., and began to fish. The other people were catching fish but I was not. A man asked me if I had a ruler so that he could measure if a striped bass was ten inches long. It turned out later that he was asking the wrong question, because stripers had to be eighteen inches long before one can "keep them". Then my friend G. came up, and we went for a walk.

We hiked 2.5 miles on the Coyote Run trail, a deeply wooded hardwood forest trail, laced with ample birdsong. We talked about my work, his work, our mutual friends, music, and the parlous state of things.
Then I fished some more while we chatted, from a picturesque large wooden fishing pier. Again, others around me caught fish, but I did not, although one fellow said he spent six hours to catch his four crappie, while I spent forty five minutes to catch my zero. Also, I use worms rather than minnows, for personal reasons, and this crappie/white bass lake is really more a "minnow bait" lake.

When we finished our walk, we hopped into my friend's convertible red Mazda Miata and he took us for a drive with the top down on rural country roads, with Radiohead playing on his CD player. The state park was gorgeous, and we drove around it to see its cabins and things to do. We then headed off in search of nowhere's exact center, passing goats and rural churches and blooming evening primrose. We went into the town of Commerce, a place where I almost got a master's degree in English from East Texas State University in 1981, until I decided at last (to cause my father to lose a bet) to go to law school. We looked at the historical marker for the town library, which said the library building used to be the post office, and was built haltingly during wartime in 1917.

I drove home in time to go to my Weight Watchers meeting, while he departed to go home to Texarkana by way of Paris.
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