Hot Summer on the Bayou

July 19, 2023

The days have been long and impossibly hot. Getting shorter now but not cooler. The humid woods even in the early morning were already well above 80 degrees. Gangs of crows were complaining about it, circling high above the treetops.

Buffalo Bayou was low flow, around 110 cubic feet per second, pretty much base flow. Outcroppings of the broken sandstone channel bottom were visible from the high, sloping bank in Houston’s Memorial Park where we were standing. Turtles paddled around. A smallish alligator gar made a splash.

We were there to take our summer photo of that Bend in the River, part of our eight-years-long documentation of the same spot throughout the seasons.

A hot summer morning on the bend in the bayou. Photo taken looking downstream July 15, 2023, by SC.

Alas, we have sad news: the tall, handsome sycamore that’s been standing strong on the south bank upstream of the bend is down, lying across the stream. A couple of brave hikers we encountered said it’s been down for a while, likely felled during the powerful storm earlier in June, likely destabilized by the extreme bank work, involving removal of vegetation and bulldozing of the nearby bank, undertaken by the River Oaks Country Club in 2019.

Last Tango

But we have even sadder news: tall, handsome Frank X. Tolbert 2 is down too. The well-known Texas artist departed the scene last Thursday afternoon at the Houston Heights home he shared with his beloved wife, artist Ann Stautberg. The night heron which is Save Buffalo Bayou’s logo, visible on our Facebook page as well as on our t-shirts, was created by our good friend Frank as part of his “Texas Bird Project.” So long, X.

Frank Tolbert’s “Night Heron”

Full view of the bend. Broken sandstone channel bottom visible.
Checking out the nearby creek, the main tributary flowing from the center of the park under Memorial Drive, as the waters join the bayou.