Today we walked the trails at the nearby Heard nature reserve. Bessie Heard was born in McKinney, Texas in 1896. She went at the age of 19 to New York City to study at the Parsons School, and worked at a Dallas department store in interior design. Ultimately, though, she had to go home to McKinney, a small town thirty miles north of Dallas, to care for her ill father. She helped people the rest of her life. She never married, and lived all the rest of her life in McKinney. She helped start the local arts club and a variety of other local organizations, amassed a collection of interesting fossils, and even sponsored a local birdhouse competition. There is a picture of her at the Heard when she was 24, with a huge kingfish she caught down on the coast at Rockport.
When she was older, she wanted to give back from the family fortunes she had been blessed to inherit. She invited a friend from a Connecticut nature group to come down and discuss with her a potential scholarship fund. He encouraged her instead to create a local museum. He told her that if she did, she would live to be 100. She started her museum in 1966--there is a wonderful picture of her with a shovel at the ground-breaking, wearing a hip tulle hat.
The museum stands today, a wetlands trail circuit and a stand of riparian trees, coupled with a small museum. The woods serve as a place to promote the recovery of nesting species such as the bluebird. The open spaces are slowly being reconverted to prairie.
This is what is called an "ephemeral wetlands", because it is dry in Summer and deluged in winter and Spring. A few months ago, drought had devastated everything. Now Wilson Creek and the wetlands areas, visible from a wonderful dry boardwalk, are rich with water. The waters are green, and tiny tadpoles swim here and there. We saw tiny green birds, small as hummingbirds, darting from branch to branch, some feet above the waters. The little creek which was down to a foot or two of water is October is brimming now.
Today we enjoyed walking amid the watery ways, and seeing the blue sky through the bare trees on a cool/mild and windy day. I tried out my new "last year's technology" 3.0 megapixel camera, and found it 30 times better than my prior .1 megapixel model. eBay once again provided an inexpensive option to expand my fun.
On the Hoot Owl Trail, animated dinosaurs drew kids and parents.
When we had finished hiking, we looked in the little museum shop. They had copies of a hardcover book of butterfly essays and paintings, self-published by a man in Ottawa, Kansas some forty five years ago. My wife bought it for me as a Valentine's Day gift. It has that old well-used book smell, and is a treasure of gorgeous paintings.
I love weekends at the Heard, one town over from us, a world away from the day to day. I wish I could have met Bessie Heard, and thanked her for today.