In the month of November I was able to observe nature from two different locations.
The first was underneath Sorin Oak, as I have been doing for most of this semester. This month, I have noticed that it is starting to get much colder. Luckily, my parents travelled to Austin early in the month to deliver me some jackets and warmer clothing, so I was not too miserable as I sat outside.
Now, I know what you are thinking. That’s not even cold! However, I was born and raised in Texas. Anything below 60°F is cold to me. Anyway, after donning a coat and a beanie I considered myself sufficiently prepared for the outdoors and ventured forth.
One thing I have noticed about the foliage on campus is that several trees are making quite the valiant effort to turn red and yellow. I think this is beautiful and hope to one day live in a place where there are many trees that change colors in the fall. The squirrels, while still rambunctious, appear to have more of a purpose now. Instead of chasing each other (and a few irate cats), they now can mostly be seen searching for acorns and scampering away to hide them.
Other than the behaviour of the squirrels and a few red leaves, not much has changed since October.
This past week, I was able to spend some time back in my home town of Needville, Texas. This offered a bit of a change of scenery, and I took advantage of that. The terrain on my family’s property is much different from that of Austin. We live in a very rural area that does a lot of farming, so the ground is mostly flat and treeless. In fact, every tree on our property was planted by my father some time between when we moved here when I was 6 and now. He works in horticulture, so he knew what he was doing and was able to transform our flat, drab backyard into a mini oasis in the midst of all the farmland.
Because of the lack of trees and large buildings, it is much windier here. As Leopold writes in A Sand County Almanac,
“A tree tries to argue, bare limbs waving, but there is no detaining the wind.”
It is somewhat strange to be back home. This is the first time I have returned this semester, and it is a surreal feeling. On one hand, I have gotten so used to the environment of Austin that it feels weird to be in this quiet, spacious rural town. On the other hand, this is where I grew up. In some ways, this will always be my home, no matter where I end up. Coming back feels different, but the same. It grounds me and reminds me that life does not always have to be GO GO GO! Here, it can just be quiet and laid back as I lounge in the hammock and stare at the sky. It is also nice to see my pets, which are admittedly what I miss most about home.
Overall, my trip back to Needville has reminded me to appreciate the time I get to spend away from big cities and bright lights and to take some time to enjoy the simpler things in life, like looking at the stars or eating fresh satsumas straight from the tree. While I love Austin, it is nice to be back home for a bit.