The first weekend of the new year, and Galveston exceeded its reputation as a sub-tropical destination. Temperatures in the 60s, low humidity, light breezes, and sunshine both days — weather for Winter Texans to write home about.

I took advantage of the balmy weather to go for a walk-about with my 5-year-old great-grandson, Leo. We had never hiked together before, so I chose the Duck Lake Trail in the coastal prairie at Galveston Island State Park. Heavy rains earlier that week prompted me to wear my calf-high rubber boots, and it turned out to be a good decision. I carried Leo on my right arm over four stretches of standing water, keeping my feet and Leo’s feet and shoes relatively dry, and his parents from becoming angry with me.

Along the way, we spotted several birds, and I tried to get Leo to see them using my light-weight binoculars. He found working the focus wheel to be difficult, but to his credit, he didn’t give up. Finally, at the first of two freshwater ponds, I pre-focused the binoculars and pointed them and Leo at an immature white ibis, its white feathers blotched with patches of brown. Suddenly, he exclaimed: “Oh wow, I can see it!” It was a “nature-awe” moment at its finest. From then on, Leo made one exciting discovery after another. We had a great time together.

I tell this story because I’m a volunteer/member of an incredible group of people called Friends of Galveston Island State Park and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday we’re going to hold our inaugural Nature Walk-About at the park. Admission is free, plus we will be serving a light breakfast, courtesy of Whataburger, starting at 8:15 a.m.

Children will receive Prairie Passports, which they can get stamped for doing any, or all, of 25 activities, including a walk-about on either, or both, of two trails. Children (and adults) can get their faces painted, do various crafts, make seed balls, throw seed balls, pot prairie grasses, learn about coastal prairie critters and plants, the role of fire and freshwater ponds, birding, geocaching, star-watching, and camping in Texas state parks. In other words, there are ample opportunities for nature-awe moments — even for adults!

Now, let’s talk about the weather. Certainly, Galveston’s January weather can run the gamut from balmy to bone-chilling cold. We plan to hold our Nature Walk-About rain or shine. However, if there’s lightning, stay home, we won’t be there.

The rest hinges on an old saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” So, if you decide to come to our Nature Walk-About, and we hope that you do, dress accordingly (including rubber boots). As an anonymous poet once wrote: “You can dress for the weather a tad or a lot, but there will always be weather, whether you like it or not.”

Dave Bary lives in Galveston.


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