A Runner’s Nature Blog – September
I love to run. I’m not very good at it, but I love to run anyways. Treadmills are one of the worst inventions ever however, so I prefer to take my runs in the great outdoors. Out of all the places I’ve run, Bull Creek Trail and the St. Edward’s University campus are my favorite, so for the purpose of this blog, I focused on those two locations. Every Monday I would run on campus and every other weekend I would run at Bull Creek Trail. Like I said, I’m not very good at running, so I run slow, and take multiple breaks, during which I would truly look and listen to the world around me.
St. Edward’s University Campus
The St. Ed’s campus is absolutely beautiful. The campus sits on a big hilltop overlooking downtown Austin and is filled with winding paths, green fields, and trees. I took my runs at two different times of day, each of which presented different experiences. Two Mondays out of the month I ran early in the morning, just as the sun was rising. The birds were singing their morning songs and squirrels were running to and from trees, playing with each other and gathering acorns. The air was fresh and alive. We’re talking about Texas though, so at 6 in the morning it was already warm, but it wasn’t the usual blaring heat from the sun yet.
The other two Mondays I went for a midnight run on campus after leaving the library. Even though it had been dark for hours, it was still warmer out than my morning runs. It’s as if the road and sidewalk soaked up the sun all day long, and were slowly releasing the warmth into the night air. There were no birds or squirrels to be seen, but everywhere, there were crickets. I don’t mean just a few crickets playing a beautiful melody; I’m talking a whole swarm of them, a biblical apocalyptic outbreak of crickets. The areas of the path that were lit were the worst. I couldn’t take a step without crunching at least one of the little guys, making my run turn into a tiptoeing ballet. The noise of all of the crickets under the warm starlit sky did make for a beautiful run, however.
Bull Creek Trail
Two of my runs were at Bull Creek Trail, right off of 2222 and 360. Despite the fact that it’s sandwiched between two major highways, there was so much wildlife look at. The first day I went running there I thought going at 2pm was a good idea. It was hot. The air was dry and draining, and I kicked up a trail of dust behind me. The trail runs along Bull Creek, and there is a portion of the trail that disappears into the river before resurfacing about 100 meter farther. On my first run, however, it was so dry that the riverbed was dried up at this portion and the trail was visible. The normally rushing small waterfall was a struggling trickle over the edge. The bugs seemed to love the heat, however, and were buzzing through the tall grass and dried up wildflowers. I was chased by two biting horsefly’s and had to wave away multiple bumble bee’s and wasps.
There is a hidden part of the trail (pictured above) that cuts through an open field surrounded by forest and hills. In this area, all of the different types of insects created a symphony of buzzing sounds. For most of the trail you can hear the sounds of the nearby highways, but here there was only nature, and it was beautiful to hear all of the sounds coming from the birds and the insects hidden in their trees and the tall grass. It made me take a step away from reality and realize just how many forms of life there were.
“There is a particular virtue in the music of elusive birds. Songsters that sing from top-most boughs are easily seen and as easily forgotten; they have the mediocrity of the obvious.”
– A Sand County Almanac
For my second run I went around the same time, but in drastically different conditions. It had poured rain two days before I went running, giving the area six inches of rainfall, and midway through my run it even began to drizzle. The trial was alive. Everything was green and thriving. The dried up flowers had more color and the dried up riverbed was full again, and the waterfall was flowing. On my first run, I had been the only one on the trial for miles, but today there were families and dogs running through the waterfall and swimming in the creek. Despite the rain, it was still hot outside. The Texas heat with the rain created a heavy blanket of humidity that covered the whole area. While the plants were flourishing, the insects and animals were more subdued. The hidden insects and birds were still playing their symphony, but it was slower, heavier. The air was weighing everything down, myself included. As I slowly trudged through the muddy trails, I felt a nervous energy all around me. Everything was buzzing, alive and refreshed from the rain, but unmoving from their perches within the trees and the tall grass, as if the humidity was holding them in place.
– Allie Heffernan