Signs of Change

A stout cold-front, two actually, pushed through Saturday and Sunday. The first one kicked off storms . . . just east of town. The other scoured out what moisture remained with 35 mph north winds. But that meant that because it is now dark in the evenings, and it was cool, I could go walking after I finished the last major scene in the Rajworld draft (in which one of two nasties gets his due).

On a whim, I grabbed a wool vest to wear. I didn’t anticipate it being especially chilly, but the vest is cream-colored and easy for drivers to spot. And the 25 mph north wind added a bit of a bite to the evening, even while walking at a brisk clip.

The vest proved to be a good call. I need to give you a little topography background. South of a certain invisible line, more or less, Amarillo is as flat as most people think. North of that line, it gets roll-y bordering on almost rugged. it is hard to see the bones of the land under the city sometimes, but if you walk and bike it enough, you come to respect the two hills. Redquarters sits near the crest of the southernmost rise. To the south things look fairly flat, then drop into a good-sized drainage basin/playa (that is currently being filled with houses. I will keep my thoughts on that folly to myself.) To the north the land slopes rather more than it seems to the north-northeast, into the bed of a former playa that covered about a square mile in an average year. North of that is a steep-ish slope that, at the crest, forms the watershed* divide between the Canadian and Red Rivers.

So what has this to do with a boiled-wool vest? Ah. Cool air sinks. And I’ve noticed over the years that the large area of greenspace near the bottom of the former playa will generate ankle-high fog and mist. You can feel when you walk into the cold pool, the difference is that stout. Even with a light breeze. So I trotted along, enjoying the unusual sensation of nothing hurting and having all my stuff done for the day. All of a sudden the air grew cooler and damper, and had a slightly different scent despite the north wind. I’d walked into the cold pool. And having an extra layer on over my summer-weight cotton shirt felt quite nice indeed.

Things like that are what make learning how to read the land so intriguing.

*Since I have regular readers from outside the US, I like to specify. For Americans and Canadians, the watershed refers to the entire drainage basin of a stream. For Europeans and some others, the watershed is the exact point where rain or melt-water divides and flows into different basins.

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