The Piney Woods of east Texas contain a deep forest known as the Big Thicket. Over the past sixty years or so, logging and general development have taken a lot of it away. Recently, two bullies named Rita and Ike added to the destruction. Last weekend the three of us headed to Hardin County to see some of what was left. The state parks where we had hoped to hike are closed now (thanks a lot, Ike), including one that had just completed about $750,000 of post-Rita renovation. Fortunately, much of the Big Thicket National Preserve has reopened. There we found some broken and fallen trees, but they were absorbed into lush areas of great beauty, diversity, and solitude:
Cypress swamps reminiscent of my Mississippi Delta homeland.
Long trails surrounded by all shades of green, opening into meadows scattered with wildflowers.
Village Creek--we'll come back and canoe here another time.
Four of the five types of carnivorous plants found in North America grow in the Big Thicket, but the only one we identified was the pitcher plant.
"Bugs check in, but they don't check out!"
Here's the main lodge at the remote country B & B where we stayed, at the end of a long gravel road. We slept in the barn, which was a lot nicer than that sounds!
The owners of the B & B also have a small nursery on-site, with pick-your-own blueberries in season, and satsumas (like a tangerine) and Meyer lemons that we enjoyed picking to take home. We also bought a Meyer lemon tree, which grows well in this area and will be a nice reminder of our weekend in the Thicket. Flowers like this Confederate rose (actually a type of hibiscus) also grace the property.
I loved the way they start out nearly white and fade to dark pink, just like cotton blossoms...something else that reminded me of the terrain of my childhood.
Amie seemed to enjoy walking with us, since it wasn't too hot, and we ambled at her pace. However, we covered about four miles on Saturday, which was a lot for an old dog. Other hazards of the deep woods presented themselves: mosquitoes and fire ants for us, and fleas and ticks for poor Amie. We dusted and bathed her as soon as we got home, and I know there are no bugs on her now, but the poor girl has been scratching like mad all week. I read that dogs that are seldom exposed to fleas can have an allergic reaction to flea bites, lasting a week or so. We've been treating her with home remedies but I think I may have to take her for an allergy shot tomorrow. The Scientist and I have been scratching and brushing her all weekend, and when we stop she nudges our hands to ask for more.
This region is only a hundred miles or so from our home, but we felt as though we were much farther away. Except for the bug bites, we'd love to go again.