Nature in My Life
"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."
There are times when I crave nature. I tire of seeing houses, highways, strip malls and traffic. I want to feel the ebb and tide of the seasons. My life very much revolved around the seasons when I lived in New Jersey. Living in the country in a wooded area with a brook, a small pond and an unpaved road, life seemed to stand still. The evil parts of the world seemed eons away and I could immerse myself in the plants, critters and changes in season. And that is exactly what I was craving today.
My closest escape is Lake Ray Hubbard, a huge man-made reservoir. As many times as I have been there, I am always discovering something new. I have seen pelicans, cormorants, ducks, hawks, snakes, minks, feral cats, and common birds of the area, but because it is such a wide open area, there is not a proliferation of these. So today I traveled across the two-mile bridge to the Rockwall side of the lake. People bike, walk or run on the protected area of the bridge but today was a weekday and there was little activity.
It had been a while since I had been down by the water but the water has disappeared due to the ongoing drought. I have never seen the lake so low. Where I used to walk out to the edge of the pier with the grandchildren to watch the ducks in the water... there is no water. There will be no fishing from the dock today... or for many days to come!
There is a wide path carved out of the dry lakebed by trucks perhaps heading to the water to fish. It looks to be about 3/4 of a mile long before you finally get to the water and on each side, there is vegetation growing higher than I am tall. The sun is warm on my back as I walk along and there is a cool breeze that feels so refreshing after the long hot Texas summer. I am all alone but sadly, I can hear the constant din of traffic crossing the bridge. It never stops. Seldom do I hear total silence living in the metroplex. There is always something... planes, sirens, cars, kids. I do not want to hear this. I want the silence of nature. I want to hear the birds singing without interruption.
I watch for snakes as I make my way to the water. Every once in a while I hear something rustling in the dried weeds. Perhaps it is just the overactive grasshoppers, or maybe a little bunny or some other critter, but I see nothing. At the end of the "road" there is a beautiful egret standing in the water and two cormorants on the remains of a couple trees in the lake. I take a few steps forward and the egret is forever watchful and moves accordingly. Soon the cormorants take off. Two ducks swim away to safety. Along the edge of the water I see several sandpipers running around, dipping their beaks in the water. I take a few steps and they watch to be sure I don't get too close.
I look down to see that "the Marlboro Man" has been here. It appears that he had a beer while he was fishing and left his trash behind. Humans are such pigs. They come to enjoy the outdoors and then leave their litter behind and totally ignore the refuse containers!
In spite of the drought, life goes on. The little buckeye butterfly lands on the packed soil, the grasshopper devours the drying vegetation, the stalks change colors as the days cool, a few tough wildflowers still bloom, the lady bug clings to a plant and there is almost a beauty in the abstract cracks in the compacted soil below my feet.
I say goodbye to the sandpiper that has become a little more accustomed to my being there and promise to return soon. I see his little footprints in the wet muck along the edge of the lake.
These are some of the things that make me the happiest. None of them cost money... just time to stop and appreciate the beauty in nature and the resilience of the wildlife in spite of global warming and the uncaring ways of some of the human species.
We need to do better for all life on this beautiful planet before it is too late. As for me, I am thankful to have this little escape close to home.
Keywords: John Burroughs quote, Lake Ray Hubbard, Texas, buckeye butterfly, global warming, grasshopper, litter, nature, sandpiper
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