“By September, the day breaks with little help from birds.”
-Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Boy was Aldo wrong about this September morning.
It was about 6:30 in the morning when Iggy and I arrived at the Barton Creek Greenbelt. As Iggy stretched his long neck out the window to better smell the morning air, his excitement began to accelerate in anticipation for what he knows is to come. His excitement radiates off of him and joyfully greets my lethargically waking self.
The sunrise that September morning was scheduled for 7:15, at 6:45 the night’s darkness was crawling out of the Texas atmosphere as the Sun’s rays began their morning stretch. The transfer from night to day signaled Iggy and I to begin our trek down to our fighting little spring in the center of the sleeping creek’s bed.
As Iggy and I begin to make our way down to the creek we both noticed an unusual shift in the morning’s air. Texas’ usual sluggish September winds were now dancing through the crisp morning air. The Greenbelt’s usual September foliage was not weeping in despair as we brushed passed but rather standing with strength and pride. The usual dry and cracked soil of the Greenbelt’s trail was indulging heavily on the water that so rarely makes an appearance. Everything was bursting with life and praising the planet for the sweet relief from the dry and barren August.
Around 7:00 the birds started waking to chirp and coo their morning mantras with more enthusiasm than Iggy and I are use to. Unfortunately, we could hardly appreciate the soulful mantras due to our anticipation of what we believe we may find at the bank of the Greenbelt.
Iggy, wagging his tail, keeping his nose low to the ground, and his feet excitedly driving him forward, is the first of us to make it to the bank. May I just add that this is unusual Iggy habit; usual Iggy habit would be loyally following in my footsteps as I blaze the trail. However, today our roles reversed and I am loyally following his driving force down to the bank of the Greenbelt.
After the short walk down to the usual dry bank of the creek joy fills my spirit and especially Iggy’s. The water is flowing, and it is flowing with serenity and vitality as it passes us. Now, this sight is remarkably unusual. Water seen this specific location of the creek is quite unheard of. This part of the creek has been sleeping for years.
Caption to photo above: Before the rain came to the creek, this is the water reserve from our fighting little spring… our first sign of water down the Greenbelt’s trail.
Our usual hours spent at the greenbelt could be roughly compared to Africa’s elephant herds’ annual trek to the Okavango Delta. And by that I mean a trek of disparity, a trek of endurance, and a trek with a mission. From Iggy and I’s chosen route we don’t reach the water reserve of our fighting little spring until we are about three miles down the trail.
For me this is no problem, for Iggy it is quite the opposite. On our weekly trek to the our fighting little spring Iggy is constantly checking and re-checking the waterless bank of the creek in a desperate kind of hope that water will miraculously burst from the thousands of rocks that bed the creek.
However, this morning was different.
We were not entering the Greenbelt with a mission. We were not entering the Greenbelt with worry. We were entering the Greenbelt with leisure. We were entering the Greenbelt with sanctity.
Now, what you may need to know in order to understand our emergency is the fragility of Iggy’s physical body. Iggy is not an endurance-bred dog. He has weak, thin skin. So weak that can break by the brush of a twig and so thin his skin struggles to keep the heat out. He is a rescued racing greyhound who spent the majority of his life in a cage so long periods of movement are somewhat foreign to him. We’ve had incidents on the Greenbelt to where he’s collapsed, to where I’ve had to rush him to get stiches, and to where I’ve had to forfeit all of my water in order to quench his thirst and regulate his body temperature.
To the contrary, Iggy’s spirit is the exact opposite of his body. He constantly scales the hills in search of roaming hares. He’s always trekking forward despite if his current state of being is strong or poor. And he is always filled with an immense amount of life and delight when we trail the Greenbelt.
The amount of joy Iggy receives from the Greenbelt is a feeling I never thought I’d see in him. When Iggy first entered my life he was destroyed, full of fear, and battered by his previous owner. The creek no matter if barren or thriving has given Iggy the confidence to become the dog his spirit has always longed for.
The abundance of water that flowed through the creek that September morning was, for lack of a better word, enchanting. The life, security, and peace the water brought to Iggy, to the birds, to the land and to I was a comfort I have never appreciated nor felt to the extent I felt that morning.
Iggy and I said our bittersweet goodbyes to the Greenbelt at about 10:15 that morning. As we walked away I, again, thought about about the African elephant’s pilgrimage to the Okavango Delta. The September Greenbelt exposed me to what the elephants have known for thousands of years. I now recognized and understood the great capacity of life the earth holds and the powerful magic that water carries wherever it leads.