Brown, January 2015

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After spending time in the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve, one becomes filled with a deep sense of relaxation, sometimes so deeply that it’s a bit disorienting to rejoin the urban world again after stepping outdoors. This, at least, has been my experience in the preserve located just minutes away on foot from the St. Edward’s University campus. The sound of the gently moving water, the chipper among birds, and the rustle of leaves reenergize and rejuvenate me like few other places on earth. Sometimes after a hard day, a hard week, or just because the sun is shining and the earth feels warm, I’ll put on my walking shoes and head over the preserve for a little nature getaway. This week, I went in with a slightly different purpose, however. Rather than just visiting Blunn Creek for some fresh air, I took a trip to begin documenting my experience in nature for the Travis County Almanac blog to begin writing and developing my own personal land ethic. After walking into the preserve, I decided to go to a new area, one I hadn’t ventured to yet. So after some time spent finding a new location, I sat to take observation notes of the plants and wildlife native to the area I’d chosen, a small clearing near the creek, just steps off of the main path, surrounded by trees. I relished the natural music of the stream rushing gently and easily over the green algae-covered rocks. Smooth gray and brown stones pebble the floor of the creek, and every now and again a small gray-brown minnow could be seen swimming fervently through the stream, looking for his next meal (or perhaps swimming in the hopes of evading a larger predator). Yet as I sat by the creek, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat distracted by the abundance of styrofoam littering the waterbed. It saddened me that this area, once pristine and unmarred by man-made products, has of late become an epicenter for plastic collection. This sad fact is largely due to the simple fact that rainfall collects the trash and brings it along for the ride into the creek. The litter simply drifts along in the current, ultimately getting caught in the various branches and lower-lying areas of the creek where it lingers indefinitely on the muddy shores of the creek bed. It is my hope that over the course of this semester that the amount of styrofoam and other non-biodegradable materials littering the preserve will decrease significantly. I plan on taking matters into my own hands each week as I report on my own developing land ethic in Blunn Creek by picking up and properly disposing of the trash that I see upon each visit. And it is my utmost hope that other visitors of the creek may take it upon themselves to help aid in this unofficial clean-up effort. As Aldo Leopold once wrote in his A Sand County Almanac, “The practices we now call conservation are, to a large extent, local alleviations of biotic pain. They are necessary, but they must not be confused with cures. The art of land doctoring is being practiced with vigor, but the science of land health is yet to be born.”

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