COW ITCH VINES
by: Eddie Trapp
There are some plants that prefer to climb a utility pole, fence, tree or other vertical surface. Poison oak/ivy is one. When close to a tree it forms a vine and climbs high. If nothing to climb on it forms more of a woody stem and gets up to four feet or more as it stands alone. As Kenneth, Junior, and I studied the world situation recently we drove through the Hemby Bottom near South Sulphur River. On our right was a fence enshrouded in trumpet creeper vines. On our left was a hay meadow with weeds about a foot tall. Cow itch vines. Same as trumpet creeper with orange, trumpet shaped flowers. Many times I hunted east of Horton and had to fight through the neck high trumpet creepers also known as cow itch vines. Do they make cows itch?
Thursday, July 6, several folks floated Red River from an old dump ground northeast of Chicota to the Highway 271 Bridge at Arthur City. We used boogie boards, inner tubes, air mattress type chairs, kayaks, and one canoe. At a large sand bar we opened an ice chest for sandwiches, Vienna sausage, cheese, crackers, and oh yeah, a big purple onion. Rare least terns dived head first in the water catching tiny fish. They commonly nest on sand bars, and especially small islands in the middle of Red River. Tiny fish sometimes nibble on your arms and legs as you float along. One pickup was left at the bridge to shuttle us back to the two pickups at the starting point. The float began at 10:45 and ended at 3:45, matching closely time wise with several previous floats along the same stretch. If water is coming out of Lake Texhoma the trip is faster and water cooler. Low profile floats work best since the last two miles you are floating almost straight south into typical south wind that tries to blow canoes and the like back upriver. Regular inner tubes and such allow more of your body to be under water, letting the current push you along as well as being less for the wind to push you the other way. Typically on summer floats you will have to walk in shallow places and drag your “float” through a few inches of water. Along the way we saw turkey buzzards, great blue herons, green herons, ducks, and crows. To get to the starting point travel Highway 197 from Arthur City west toward Chicota. Cross Sanders Creek Bridge then take the first right, a county road. Go north a couple of miles until you see the river right beside the road. There are about three primitive roads, four wheeler type, that go down to the water. It is just a short walk so you don’t need four wheelers. Stop your trip just before going under the bridge. On the right, the Texas side, is a very steep road that you probably need a four wheel drive pickup to go down and up. Don’t try to do the float in wet weather. Roads will be muddy. Be careful as with all water activities. Make sure everyone wears old tennis shoes so protect against broken bottles carelessly used by some for target practice.
This past week we lost legendary historian Larry Harmon after a long illness. His unselfish time spent researching records greatly added to our knowledge of the past.
Worthless information section: Every year in Britt, Iowa there is the National Hobo Convention. The number of actual hoboes is usually less than fifty. The first convention was in 1900 and organized by the hoboes themselves. There they told stories, met old friends, and drank cheap wine. In 1933 the Britt Chamber of Commerce invited them back and it has been an annual event. The highlight of the convention is Mulligan stew followed by an election of Hobo king and queen. Eight thousand tourists normally attend but there are many true hoboes also. Bearded men with names like Steamtrain Maury, Lord Open Road, and Slow Motion Shorty. Railroad officials “look the other way” for a few days before and after the event. The people of Britt give each hobo $7.50 per diem allowance and nightly provide a cozy cell in the local jail free of charge.
Hooray, I have finished typing my On The River, Book 6, and now giving it the final proof reading. Hopefully the pictures will be added and the book ready for the Charleston Homecoming, the first Sunday in August.
Many animals are camouflaged to hide in their surroundings. When you think of camouflage you may think of that such as worn by hunters. There is another way animals are able to not be seen. The condition is called countershading. They are light colored on bottom and darker on top. Both predator and prey are able to participate in this cat and mouse game. For example, a shark below a small fish can not be seen as easily by the intended prey. The shark’s back blends in with the darker depths. As the shark looks up, it also has trouble seeing the light colored belly of the fish as it looks toward the light colored sky.
A hawk’s light colored belly cannot be seen as easily by a rabbit. The hawk cannot see the dark, grass colored rabbit’s back. But why do rabbits, deer, and many other prey animals have light colored bellies? No predators are going to be underneath them looking up. That’s where the term counter shading becomes more important. The light colored belly of prey on land helps reflect light to the ground and essentially makes their shadows less easily seen. Otherwise, for example, an antelope or rabbit might be the same color as the grass but would produce a dark shadow easily noticed by predators, especially if looking from higher ground.
I was running short on the customary joke for this week so I cheated a little and retrieved one from article 159 that was published on July 18, 1991. You readers maybe can forgive the repetition since some of you weren’t even born and those that were may be so old you forgot it: Jean and I were on vacation and stopped at the Farmers’ Market in Biloxi. Several older men were telling stories while waiting for a customer to stop by. I overheard the following tale from an elderly black man named Johnny. He and several friends would at times pay a night visit to a nearby watermelon patch and each one “borrow” a watermelon. When a safe distance away they would stop and eat all they could in the dark. All of them were bragging on the good tasting melons except Johnny who kept complaining that his was not sweet. Finally one of his friends asked to sample a bite to see what was wrong. Sputtering and spitting, Johnny’s friend said, “Laws a mercy, Johnny, you got a punkin.”