Contreras January 2015

At the beginning of the semester my friend and I ventured into the neighborhoods that run behind South Congress. We wanted to go for a walk in the beautiful weather that day. Pretty quickly though, we found ourselves on a little bridge over a little creek in the middle of this suburbia and we couldn’t help stepping down into the tree cover to explore some more…

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We sat here in peace for a long long time enjoying the look of the sun on the water and the sound of the water on the rock. The realness and rawness of nature on that cheery sunny day made us feel “natural, wild and free.” The eerie light waves on the rock set the mood for our philosophical discussion about existence and essence and we very much enjoyed the freedom of forgetting about our phones, obligations to people, school work, family. Maybe it’s not exactly what our friend Aldo meant, but in my own way, I agree that “perhaps every youth needs an occasional wilderness trip, in order to learn the meaning of this particular freedom.”

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I suspect the creek was intentionally made to provide an escape for rain flood; hyper-straight angles hack through the limestone and fallen trees show evidence of axes doing the work rather than the elements. The exposed roots tell a story of battle over the limited amount of soil but a happy truce must have been reached at some point in their history because we didn’t see many dying trees except for those already fallen.

Since the butt end of the week of January 12th, I’ve been here maybe 3 or 4 times. Each time, I enter the creek from a different point and explore another piece of it. I wanted to take my time this month to get to know the area so that in the coming months I can focus in on topics like animal population, human-generated disturbance, the creek’s water, tree species, and rock types.

During my time here this month I noticed that the animal population is pretty minimal; it seems to be limited to birds (I spotted a female cardinal, a couple mockingbirds and a good amount of doves), squirrels, and a house cat. In correlation, the human disturbance level is pretty high. There’s a lot of noise from cars and AC appliances since the houses go right up to the edge of this teeny canyon. There’s also a lot of litter. In one particular area, I could see quite a bit of human intervention in order to manipulate the area around their houses and back patios; it looked like a few of the houses had their back patios built so that they could overlook the creek. One even built a bench and has a compost pile with a small garden right on the grass surrounding the rocky creek. I wouldn’t say that this intervention is at all harmful though. There is a lot less litter here and a little bit more animal activity. It seems that these residents  value the real bit of nature just beyond their backyards.

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1. a bench overlooking the creek   2. house cat keeping his eyes on me walking around in his territory   3. the bloody evidence of an animal of prey (the house cat perhaps?)

(sorry they’re sideways! I couldn’t figure out how to fix it…)

I also noticed that the creek’s water does not host any animal life, but does sustain much insect activity: mosquitoes, gliders, spiders, gnats and flies. For the most part, it is clear. And it isn’t ever still except for when it gets trapped in the little grooves and pockets of the stone after the water line recedes. I wonder why it doesn’t hold any fish or frogs at least..?

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 I am excited to keep exploring and learning about this little urban oasis. I can’t wait to witness the growth of plants and flowers and animal populations as the Earth turns itself towards Spring.

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