TheRealSharon's Blog

Even if you don’t live in Texas like I do, you have probably heard on the news or read somewhere about our lack of much needed rain here. At last look, there was only one county in the whole state of Texas NOT under a burn ban because of such dry conditions. When I step outside on to the grass, I might at first mistake the crunching under my feet for leaves and think it’s Fall, but the heat lets me know I’m wrong very quickly. It’s not leaves that I’m hearing, but the sound of yellow, dry grass that has died from lack of nourishment. A huge majority of places around Texas have dead grass and some even dead trees that have fallen due to no rain. The lake levels have dropped quite a bit. In fact, earlier this month a lake within 30 minutes of where I lived got so low that another piece of the space shuttle Columbia was found.

Lake Travis in Austin,Texas is at less than 50% capacity due to the drought and on my trip back from Austin, I saw where many lakes and ponds had gone down dramatically since the last time I had driven through. The lack of rain was a huge topic during my weekend trip to Austin and back as well as the impact it has had.

There was another D word that was sort of intertwined on my weekend trip. It was a word that I remembered as having a bit of a stigma once in my life. The word is death. I remember back when I was about 9 and had a younger friend who lived down the street from me. One day we were talking and I don’t remember exactly how the word came up, but I mentioned death. The girl’s mom completely freaked out like I had just said a cuss word and told me, “We do NOT say that word in this house!” At that time, I didn’t understand what was the big deal. Death wasn’t a bad word, it happens to everyone. Now that I am older, I really think the mom must have experienced one or more horrible losses in her life and was just honestly afraid of the thought of Death. I haven’t seen her or the girl in almost 2 decades so I’m not sure if anything changed, but that memory of Death being considered in the same league as a cuss word sticks with me strongly to this day.

Drought causes death among plants and sometimes animals. I already knew this, but it seems like my weekend was full of that reminder. I had the misfortune of seeing both a dead skunk and raccoon on the highway first….well, I smelled the first one more than saw it, but nevertheless, that was the beginning. Those two were obviously roadkill and nothing NEW to roads in Texas or anywhere else. It was the third animal I saw that shocked and surprised me.

I was on the lookout for this type of animal and I never could have guessed my first sighting would be in this way. First I saw the shape laying on the side of the road in the grass, then as we got closer, I saw the brown and white…..a dead cow. 😦 It didn’t look as if it was hit by a car, but I suppose that was possible. Since there weren’t any other cows close by, I feel like it was more plausible that the cow had wandered off(which they ARE known to do) and had passed out due to the heat and/or drought. I probably will never know the real cause but it saddened me to see him or her lying there.

The next day brought the news of a funeral for a drug Deputy dog who had simply collapsed while on duty and the people thought he had just laid down for a bit. Knight, a 2 year old German Shepherd, dead of heat exhaustion. I cried a little as I heard the officers describing what a good dog he was and how much they loved him. That same day I heard about a goat that had died recently at the barn my niece goes to to work her animals. They had to feed their animals early in the morning and then late in the day due to this. Supposedly, feeding the goat too early in the extreme heat caused its death? Not sure how that works….but definitely all these dead animals were freaking me out.

Thank goodness that was the last dead animal case I heard that weekend. All that talk of drought and death definitely put a somber mood on the weekend……thankfully, I have a super crazy family that gave me a lot of moments to laugh about and bring me out of the doom and gloom mood. We definitely STILL need rain here in Texas, though. Please send any unwanted rain OUR way.

Be on the lookout for some happy, funny moments from my trip to Austin last weekend. My post on Saturday should be about this!

Seriously…..I’m not joking…They are EVERYWHERE! Roaming free. I have no problem with this myself.

Today I met one of my best friends and her little boy at the Zoo so I could hang out with them for awhile. First we went on the little train which literally makes me feel like a giant in a miniature world. Not just because I’m tall but also because I take up more space all around!

My friend is currently taking classes to become a veterinarian and she absolutely adores animals. She has worked at our zoo before as a volunteer zookeeper and I know she would LOVE to work there as one of the animal trainers someday. She talked to me as we walked through the zoo, telling me about different experiences feeding the animals and what that was like. Then she told me how they used to spay the peacocks but there were such an abundance of them now that they just couldn’t afford it. So there is literally peacocks all over!

They are beautiful birds and we saw many baby peacocks among their mommies…I even snapped a couple of pics, they were just too adorable! But at one point, I made a comment to my friend about how they needed birth control for the peacocks!

Baby Peacocks! 🙂

Surely, you agree from these pictures, that these birdies are just too cute, right?! 🙂

Near the end of our zoo trip, we saw a little girl, probably between 8-10 years of age bawling her head off and screaming at the top of her lungs, “I want to go home! Get me out of here! They’re everywhere.” I asked my friend if she knew what the little girl was going on about and she said she thought it was the peacocks. I figured maybe she went up to one of them and tried to pet them or something and they chased her so she was scared. As far as I have seen, if you don’t mess with a peacock or its babies, it will not mess with you at all. These birds were walking right beside me all throughout the zoo and never made me feel fear at all. My friend’s little boy is just 3 years of age and he wasn’t afraid either.

We stopped at this little water fountain so my friend’s little boy could put his head under the water and cool off some. It was around noon so it was cooler than in the afternoon, but this is Texas and it was still high 90’s probably, so it was still hot. He asked his mom to put her hair under the water but she didn’t want to. Like me, she has naturally curly hair but she straightens her bangs….if she got them wet, they would curl. I was hot myself and I don’t have any bangs. My hair was clipped on top of my head, so I dipped my head under the fall of water to cool off myself. It felt good, but not even 2 minutes later, my hair was dry again. That’s just how hot the sun was…even in the shade.

As we walked away from the fountain, the little crying girl had probably not progressed through the zoo even 50 feet from the point we first saw or rather heard her. She was still screaming at the top of her lungs and freaking out. Me and my friend could not see any peacocks anywhere near her and during the few minutes we were by the fountain, neither of us saw any of them go near her. To me, it just didn’t seem normal for a child to be so afraid of peacocks….. My friend’s little boy asked why the girl was crying and I told him she was afraid of the birds. This explanation was quickly followed by me stating that peacocks were nothing to be afraid of at all and not scary birds….as long as you don’t pick on the birds, they won’t bother you at all. He seemed to think this was a good enough explanation because he didn’t say anymore about it and didn’t seem effected at all by it.

Speaking once more about these birds, we came across a few feathers here and there that were shed by them and my friend’s boy would pick them up and carry them around. He ended up gifting me one of the feathers before we left.

My feather gifted to me by my friend's little boy 🙂

This was the first time I had ever really held an actual peacock feather. It was so light and so beautiful, so sparkly and as my friend’s boy found out, it was also ticklish. When I got home, I looked closely at the base and saw how much like plastic it looked and felt there. Very interesting!

I saw other animals at the zoo, of course, but a vast majority were snoozing away or relaxing in the water so while I saw them, not very many of them really intrigued me. And just when I thought the peacocks would be the main highlight of my zoo sightseeing, we stumbled across the raccoons. OK, sure, we have raccoons all over East Texas as well as probably most, if not all states, but these two interested me. The first one I saw was a “chubby” one….not sure what they fed him OR her but he was very round…and he or she was floating along to the other side of the little pond area in its exhibit. I walked over to see what it was doing and it was in the corner, sniffing away and playing with something. We later figured out it was a bit of rock that had broken off from the wall. The other raccoon looked like a normal sized one and was at first laying inside a hollowed out log staring at us. Then it walked to the back of the exhibit and appeared to be pacing back and forth. My friend held out a hand as if she had food in it and he quickly ran to the edge of the water area and got on its hind legs to see what she had. He quickly figured out she had nothing and he was over it so went back to his pacing. She tried it again to no avail, as the raccoon was wise to her tricks now. Before we moved on from the raccoons, he DID come close to the edge again but this time it was to see what the other raccoon was up to and play with his own bit of rock. I really enjoyed watching them play. They seem like they could be such fun, sweet creatures if trained to be rather than the aggressive little critters who forage for food in the trashcans. Something tells me the chunky coon would have gotten stuck though….I’ll let you determine that for yourself….

"Chubby" in the corner with "Pacer" to the right of him or her

et cetera
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