The Magic of Ambassadoring and Other Shots of Summerness

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Now, on to the good stuff. My summer job as a “Beach Ambassador” (man, I love the hilarious grandiosity of that title; did I mention I mostly change trash and pick up litter?) is drawing to an end — about a month left — so I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights. I’d like to note that these pictures are pretty nature-heavy because that’s what I’m drawn to capturing. I mean, do you really want to see me in action telling the 500th resident in a row that their dog can’t be on the sand? No, me either. So these shots are pretty trail-heavy, because that’s my favorite location within the park I work at.

All pictures can be enlarged if you click on them. My apologies for the poor quality; they were all taken on my phone, and several of them when I was on the move.

Also a minor warning: there are a few creepy-crawlies in here, as well as one animal that (as far as I can tell) died from natural causes. Okay, let’s go!

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Oh, I’m excited! And chewing gum!

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Let’s ambassador that beach! And by beach, I mean sand imported near a little stretch of an unspectacular lake. Okay, those of you who live real a near beach can stop laughing now.

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I got hired as a beach ambassador about one week before the worst flooding north Texas has seen in years. Um, I think there used to be a beach under there?

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The view of my beach area from a dock at the boat ramp. Only recently reemerged from our heavy flooding this May.

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A glimpse of the lake from the trails.

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A moment of peace behind the baseball fields.

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The wild, overgrown trails most recently accessible as the floodwaters recede. My favorite area by far!

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A shot of the more populated trails right near the park when everything was still flooded. We passed the 100 year flood-plane this year!

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And some of the cool, witchy trees exposed when the water receded.

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You can see how high the water got by where the foliage all goes from brown to green. Who knows how many of these trees will make it?

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And the gross but cool gunk left behind on all of the grassy fields. Lake algae or some such that stuck to the earth and then dried in the sun.

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But not all was lost. There are still plenty of pretties that made it!

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This horse apple/crab apple is HUGE! It’s the seed pod from a bois d’arc tree.

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Don’t let that cute face fool you. Bunnies are rule breakers.

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Look closely, right in the middle. See it?

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Here it is zoomed in. A big, gorgeous bobcat!

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Tons of lovely butterflies out there, this is a neat one.

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And tons of these large birds, too. They’re hard to get pictures of because they take off as soon as we get near.

mama bird

Speaking of birds, look at mama and what she was perched on!

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And who’s that?!

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It’s not a dog. It’s not a wolf. It’s…

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A coyote!

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We made eye contact and he whispered his secrets to me. He’s full of mischief and slinking.

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This pretty little garter snake is SO GREEN that at first I though it was a plastic toy.

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Speaking of GREEN, look at this tenacious little guy who came along for a ride.

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Mr. Rat burrowing his head into the grass.

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A long-tailed bird.

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Another butterfly.

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A family of fat little toads hiding under a piece of litter. πŸ™‚

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And two tiny little cuties! (The second was inside my hand.)

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A frog, I think.

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Sad, but beautiful. This owl was lying dead under a tree. I couldn’t see any injuries. I was amazed by how large it was, and how “fluffy” its feet.

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Mischievous little mouse!

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A different type of snake. He was hiding under a trash can.

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This black widow gave me a fright! She was hanging out in one of the trash bags I pulled out to change. Luckily she was down deep in the shade. I wish I could’ve caught a shot of the marking on her back, but, well, I was only willing to stick my head so far into that can.

spider web

Speaking of spiders, I’m sorry to say that that brownish grey stuff all over those trees? It’s spider web. There are entire trees absolutely covered in it. I think it might be from water spiders when the lake was up all the way to the leaves.

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To make up for the scares, here’s the tiniest, cutest little spider I’ve ever seen. πŸ™‚

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And two ridiculously smug ducks.

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And just to round it out, here’s a shot of part of the farmers’ market I work on Saturdays.

rain day

And just to rub it in, here’s what I’m up to on rainy days: creating Styrofoam tombstones for the Halloween event. Best job ever!

I’m still having a blast and working hard, but I’m winding down the summer job and winding up the writing. I’d say my break was a huge success. I’m ready to be back! I’m sooooo dreaming about the upcoming fall and my next projects and all the new adventures that await. I hope you’ve all had a great summer too. What have I missed?

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  • Regina Richards

    Looks like a terrific summer, but I’m glad you’re back to writing. πŸ™‚

  • Peggy

    What a perfect job for you! Outdoors all day, where you can enjoy the secrets that nature offers those who seek & appreciate the little everyday beauties. And making Halloween crafts? Too good to be true:) I wanted to see a more long shot photo of you driving the ATV, which must have been one of the best perks of the job!

    • It really has been perfect! Yes, the little golf cart/ATV-type guy is awesome, but it has my employer’s info on it so I thought it best to leave it out. πŸ™‚

  • Carie Juettner

    Wow, your job is not what I imagined. I pictured more sand and sunburned kids and less wildlife. Great pictures. I can’t believe you saw a bobcat!

    • Me either! I think the sand and sunburned kids would’ve been a lot more prominent if it hadn’t flooded right at the beginning of the summer. Since our beach was underwater the park was much slower than normal. (But there is more of it than pictured here. I felt weird about posting pictures with people in them.) And yes, the bobcat was awesome!

  • Cynthia Robertson

    Great photos, Annie – looks like summer was good to you!
    I’m looking forward to the fall, as well!

  • Annie, I loved this photo journal of your summer job. I’d like to comment on all of the pictures, but will limit myself to a few: Bunnies are practically Percy Prefects compared to squirrels. I hate squirrels. Bobcat = Cool! Love butterflies. They remind me of freedom. Take and share as many photos of them as you want. Coyotes: when we lived on the farm, we often heard coyotes howling. I think they made their home by some bluffs on our property. You can keep the snakes, even the harmless ones. The long-tailed bird looks like a scissor-tailed flycatcher. We have some colorful ones here. I see them on my walks – well, I did before I fractured my tibia. *sigh* Love frogs! All ducks are smug. They are much like cats in that way. Farmers market looks delightful. Gardens in NWA were dismal this year. Oops! This comment kinda got away from me. 😜

    • This made me smile. πŸ™‚ But I’m sorry to hear about your tibia. Yikes!

      I love squirrels!! But then, I love bunnies too. (I love mischief.) And since you said so, here’s another butterfly I saw just yesterday. Looks like it might actually be the same kind as the first one.

      • I’m a staunch supporter of mischief! My prejudice against squirrels stems from living with their rudeness for two years. They LOVED the deck of the place I lived in about eight years ago. Their rudeness knows no bounds. πŸ˜‰

        Thank you for the butterfly photo. It is lovely.

        • “Rudeness.” Hehe. There used to be an avid gardener in my poetry critique class in college who always brought in poems where squirrels were the villains. πŸ™‚

  • This looks like a fun summer! I’ve been enjoying the summery warmth (especially after last winter) but I’m also starting to look ahead to fall…

    • It has been. πŸ™‚ Glad to hear it. Is fall your favorite too, Lura?

  • That sure is outdoorsy. I almost feel bad, hiding here in my A/C. Almost. Is it terrible that the pics of the trail, trees, and grasses immediately made me think of bodies in shallow graves and serial killers? lol I’m glad you had a great break and are fully re-charged. I think making gravestones sounds fun. I expect pictures of your masterpieces in October!! πŸ™‚

    • Haha. Why do I get the impression that you wrinkled your nose when you said “outdoorsy”? =)~ Let’s hope there aren’t any dead bodies hidden out on the trails!! I’ll keep an eye out just in case.

  • Melissa Crytzer Fry

    You know this post was RIGHT up my alley. So many great wonders you captured on film! LOVED the bobcat (and had my own visitor a few months ago — got great shots of her and watched her hunt for 20 minutes!). SO heartbroken to see the owl, as it reminded me of the PAIR of barn owls we lost this year. They built low on a cliff right next to the highway, and to dive down to their ‘hole,’ meant getting close to speeding vehicles. Both were struck within two week’s time, and I had to move one off the road. Sniffle.

    Sounds like your summer away from writing was JUST what the doctor ordered. Can’t wait to learn more about your projects coming up this fall!

    • I thought of you when I posted it! Yeah, the owl was super sad for me too. I wish I knew what happened to it. Sad about yours as well. Poor critters. πŸ™

      It really has been just what the doctor ordered! Thanks, Melissa!

  • WOW! So good and healthy to get outside. Seriously, for a writer that’s a LOT of outdoor time. Fantastic! I bet it inspired you in ways you don’t even know yet. I love mailchimp . . . though every time I send one at least a few people unsubscribe. It pains me for like a day and then I move on. My thought is, you win a few and turn off a few every time. That’s just how it goes. Be ready!

    • Yeah, outdoor time is really important for my mental health and happiness, so it’s been wonderful to get so much of it over this break. I’m going to work to keep that going (less but still present) even as my job ends. I will keep that in mind with MailChimp. Thanks for the heads up!