Spring on Buffalo Bayou with Jim

Another Visit to Document That Bend in the River


April 29, 2019

Photographer Jim Olive was back in town just in time to take some beautiful shots of a springtime morning on that bend in Buffalo Bayou. For almost five years now we’ve been meeting in Memorial Park and walking across the dewy grass, dodging bicyclists spinning round the paved Picnic Loop, to document the sun rising over the trees from the same high bank on the bayou.

It’s changed some over the years, with major floods taking down some of the trees and the high banks sloughing down, only to stabilize and regrow, as is the continuous pattern. But the bayou through here is remarkably stable in its directional path. Lined with ancient sandstone on its sides and bottom, the 18,000-year-old bayou flowing past Memorial Park and the Hogg Bird Sanctuary further downstream has been following essentially the same route for at least a hundred years – based on the earliest topographic maps we have. And probably for a lot longer than that.

Spring again! That bend in the bayou, looking downstream early in the morning of April 26, 2019. Jim Olive was back in town to continue our series documenting this same spot through time. Photo by Jim.

On this Friday morning the picnic grounds were still lightly littered with the colorful remains of cascarones, dyed Easter eggs filled with confetti and cracked over someone’s head.

On our way into and through the woods, we paused to consider the massive, decaying pine still somehow standing tall next to the dirt path, its headless corpse rising high into the blue sky.

The photographer went to work while the assistant, kicking aside a loose puffball mushroom, focused anxiously on glimpses of heavy machinery parked near ominous orange netting strung up behind the trees and vegetation on the edge of the country club golf course across the water. Ugly, foolish, and costly plans, with the potential to damage parkland as well as private property, are in the works for the banks there. We’ll have more about that eventually.

Looking upstream on that bend in the bayou, standing on a high bank in Memorial Park. Photo by Jim on April 26, 2019

And then suddenly a huge flock of large gray-and-white hawk-like birds took the sky, circling and circling high, possibly disturbed by groundskeepers fertilizing and watering the golf course. Even Jim, a naturalist who knows everything, even in Latin, couldn’t identify them.

Click here to see the entire series documenting A Bend in the River.


A flock of large gray-and-white hawk-like birds flew up from the golf course across the way and circled overhead before moving on. Photo by Jim.

2 thoughts on “Spring on Buffalo Bayou with Jim”

  1. David Millet says:

    How can we work together and get this information/viewpoint in front of the most people?
    I have been to a few flood/Bayou gatherings and found most in attendance express frustration with the local and federal entities responsible lack of responsiveness and in the case of some at there absolute subservience to engineering firms(read kick backs or political contributions). In meeting with some engineering groups or the core of engineers it appears the threat of a public lawsuit is the only leverage that works. The larger general public needs to become involved, starting with elementary school age children. This a is a generational problem, just like climate change.
    What can be done to make it widely known and supported?

    1. Thanks, David.

      We’ve been presenting at Earth Day and at the City of Houston’s WaterWorks Festival for schoolchildren, publishing editorials in the Chronicle and giving talks. But you are right. We need to get this particular point across about Flood Control and county commissioners being beholden to engineers. The Corps of Engineers has changed somewhat. But in fact, we are thinking we may have to resort to a lawsuit on a related issue and we hope to set a precedent. I’ll send you an email.

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