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September 26, 2012

Mark Elliott, Wonder As I Wander

I went for a drive around the county this morning—actually several counties, looping through Skellytown, White Deer, Panhandle and back across to 136 to the lake. You may recall that the purpose of these outings is birding and there were hundreds of waterfowl at the playa in Carson County and the south end of Meredith. They are generally a little far away for good photos, but I did get a few. There were also a few hawks around, Red-tailed and Swainson’s and Northern Harrier, but mostly I just drove.
The change of seasons is becoming more noticeable, pastures and corn and milo fields turning golden, and there are migrating birds are at the playas and lakes around. This time of year always makes me a little nostalgic. I think mostly of the changes I see around me as I drive; old water pumping windmills next to the electricity producing giants, water from irrigation pipes running down farrows next to a cornfield irrigated by a pivot sprinkler, ranchers on four wheelers helping cowboys on quarter horses, and I get a little overwhelmed by it all.
I’m not a technophobe, by any measure. I use my laptop and smartphone and DSLR camera almost constantly. These gadgets make my life much easier; I can’t imagine trying to type these essays on a regular typewriter, or how much it would cost to buy film and develop all the unfocused, underexposed photos I take. The phone is an especially handy gizmo, although I get a little annoyed by it sometimes. I’m pretty sure my kids would never answer a call from me, but a text—I discovered a long time ago that the under 30 crowd is pretty much incapable of not looking at a text message, so even if my children deny it, I know, without a doubt, that they saw it. That alone makes it worth the cost. Then add in the maps, GPS, internet access, bird guides, Spotify and Pandora, games, and a pretty good camera, and it is an amazing tool.
There are days, like today, when I turn it all off and drive around the counties, watch the sunrise from Spring Canyon, hike the trail a Harbor Bay, or watch the sun set from the cliffs at Fritch Fortress. I sit in my yard at night and have a beer and look at the stars, and think back to my youth, before computers and video games, HDTVs and smartphones, and enjoy being alive. My grandparents were born before cars and airplanes, when electric lights and telephones were a novelty and they lived to see the moon flights. My parents were born before television and have adapted pretty well to computers and cell phones. I was born before the technology/information explosion and hope to see a lot more before it’s all over. But there are still days like today, when I turn it all off.

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