September Rains and the Aquifer

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Since Labor Day the San Antonio area has had almost 17 inches of rain; we’ve set a record for September rainfall and with more rain in the forecast this may be the wettest month ever for us.  Everything is green and blooming profusely! While the rain is an inconvenience no one complains, ever. We take it thankfully when it falls.

An added benefit is that the Edwards Underground Aquifer has risen over 30 feet at the test well and the local springs are flowing again.

Yesterday evening I checked on the Blue Hole (the original headwaters of the San Antonio River) and yes, there’s water flowing from the spring! However, it wasn’t its usual blue color possibly from mud that had collected in the basin prior to the spring’s activity. Still, it is fun to watch this crystal clear water flowing downstream to join the current SA River.

Spanish explorers and priests reported this area as being sprinkled with many springs, some of which rose up many feet into the area before releasing their water to flow downstream.  They described the area as being an oasis and very beautiful with all the vegetation and trees.

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The San Pedro Springs are also flowing very nicely and the water is very clear. I noticed water in one of the lesser springs in the park, too.  The springs in this area attracted the Native Americans before the Spanish explorers came to the area.  Somewhere around the San Pedro Springs the city of San Antonio was established in 1718 – 300 years ago.

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Springs flowing – September 18, 2018

 

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Normal appearance of Springs – April 26, 2014

 

 

The Little Elephant

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February 2017, temporary location

This cast stone elephant is charming, isn’t it?  It is one of two that are part of the Hertzberg Circus Collection.  For many years it and its companion stood in front of the former San Antonio Public Library at 210 W. Market Street.  Everytime I walked by the building it never failed to make me smile!

The little elephants have a long story that, thankfully, has a happy ending for them. Harry Hertzberg was a local attorney and avid circusana collector who left his extensive collection to the City of San Antonio when he passed away in 1940.  The collection was then housed in the former San Antonio Public Library building and the first elephant was installed at the front; the city continued to add to the collection doubling its original size.

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Five elephants were cast by local artist Julian Sandoval.  A fellow circus collector commissioned one for Mr. Hertzberg as a gift; it was displayed on Mr. Hertzberg’s lawn until his death. The second elephant was donated to the collection when its owner passed away in 1989.  It was installed opposite the original elephant in front of the old library.

By 2001 the circus collection contained 40,000 items and the cost of maintaining the museum was prohibitive. Per the terms of Mr. Hertzberg’s will the collection then passed to the Witte Museum. One elephant was installed in front of the museum and named “Cinnamon Candy”. Countless children (including my oldest grandchild) posed for pictures with this little elephant.

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Cinnamon Candy in her new location, 2017

A re-painting of the elephant was sponsored by the Bolner family, owners of Bolner’s Fiesta Spices in 2006; conservation work has also been done to preserve the elephant. When the Witte underwent a major renovation the elephant was moved to the side of the museum, close to the temporary entrance.  When the renovations were finished the little stone elephant was moved to its new location in front of the B. Naylor Morton Research Center. I’m not sure where the other elephant is – time for a trip to the museum!

 

Before and After

I love before and after pictures; I can spend hours looking at them and analyzing the differences. Today I had my own experience with before and after.  Due to recent rains the underground aquifer that San Antonio relies on for water has risen above the very low levels that have plagued it for many years.  I knew the aquifer was up, but didn’t realize how much until I saw a news item that the Blue Hole had water in it.  Time to grab the camera and head out!

In case you’re wondering the Blue Hole  is where the headwaters of the San Antonio River originally bubbled up from the earth. Drilling of artesian wells in the late 1800’s diminished the spring’s flow until it eventually stopped.  Now it only flows when the aquifer reaches a higher level. The San Antonio River is a human controlled body of water ensuring an even flow of water into the downtown area and, more importantly, as a means of flood control.

Here’s the before:

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2013

And the after:

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2016

The once dry river bed is now a noisy rush of water, too.

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2013
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2016

I didn’t think I would ever see water in the Blue Hole, but today I did.  Pure, clean water right out of the aquifer.

Made of what?

If you read  my Doorway Into the Past blog then you know about the McNay Museum of Art that I featured there.  Marion Koogler McNay bequeathed her Spanish Colonial-Revival home and surrounding 23 acres to be preserved as a museum of modern art.  Her collection of 700 pieces of European and Southwestern art pieces formed the core of the museum when it opened in 1954. Today the museum curates almost 20,000 pieces of art.

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A current exhibit titled “The Extraordinary Ordinary: Three Installations” has three artists using “the stuff of ordinary life to create extraordinary environments”.  While all 3 were interesting my 12-year old companion and I found artist Tom Burckhardt’s creation to hold us captive for quite a while.  He created an artist’s studio from corrugated cardboard, black paint, wood and hot glue and looked over nothing.

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We carefully went over every detail commenting over and over, “look at that” or “how on earth did he make that” as well as “I wonder how many times he had to re-do that”!

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There were brushes and various types of paint all with meticulously painted labels. The small stove held a pot and a can of Campbell’s tomato soup stored on a shelf above. A phonograph on the shelf was ready to play a tune and there were reference books on the table.

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The window, sink, overhead pipes all look real, don’t they?  Such creativity – who would have thought of this!

And, I have to add that I was just as thrilled when we entered a room and there on the wall was one of Monet’s studies of Water Lilies! I wanted to just bring it home with me, but perhaps buying a copy would be a little more prudent!

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Wednesday 1.13.2016

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Detail on top of the former Joske’s store in downtown San Antonio, Texas.  I dearly loved this store and still lament it’s demise.  The mall it is now attached to gutted the building, salvaged the lumber, and converted it into a retail complex.  I haven’t been inside, but noticed this detail on top of the building on a quick trip downtown.  I’ve never noticed it before – my eyes were always pulled to the grillwork. This is art!

Wednesday 12.02.2015

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This is a picture on display in the Tower of Americas (San Antonio, Texas). I think it is part of the Institute of Texan Cultures collection, hope they don’t mind me sharing this glimpse into the past!  This theater is still in use today as a live venue after an extensive renovation – it is marvelous! I need to get a copy of White Christmas and snuggle down to watch!