Batten Down the Hatches

I saw a quail last week.

Big whup, Tosh, you live in Texas.

You’re right, but it was the quail’s location within Texas that threw me into an extended ponder.

It was a single hen bobwhite, and she was standing in a little sandy patch next to the road. She looked healthy, and when she scurried into the grass I waited to see if she had chicks or a mate. It’s nesting season, you know.

Turns out she was single. A single bobwhite hen on Mustang Island, Texas. A single bobwhite hen standing next to the main beach road in Port Aransas. Sure, she had the dune grasses for cover, and I’ve seen wild coveys, before on the Texas barrier islands. But not here; not twenty yards from the surf and in the middle of town. I’ve never seen a quail mingling with the sunburned land whales, and the yowling rednecks, and the Natty cans, and the empty Funyon bags, and the cigarette butts, and the saggy-pants Latinos. A seagull can swallow a jumbo shrimp on a treble hook in one try; a quail chick wouldn’t stand a chance, for chrissakes.

Bobwhites are resolute little critters, and given a bit of fortune I suppose she could pair and mate and pull off a clutch in the midst of all that humanoid flotsam.

No fortune came her way, though. Hurricane Alex roared in the next afternoon, and the spot where I saw the little wayward hen got four feet of tide, sixty knot winds, and five inches of rain.

There’s a real estate office in Port Aransas that schlepps rusted-out condos and moldy beach houses. Their sign out front speaks that age-old axiom of real estate success.

Location. Location. Location.

– TB

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