After ACL ended and Zilker Park was relieved of the fences surrounding it, I was once again able to enjoy the cool air and vast space of the park. One thing was very different though: the grass was no longer green. Either the chilly temperature drop or damage from ACL caused it, but the grass was dry and somewhat brown. Little signs were staked into the ground in areas that were in really bad shape. I made sure to steer clear of any grass near those signs and only walked in areas that weren’t in bad shape. Like usual, I picked a quiet spot to study under a tree because it was unusually warm that day – of course, the next day weather was below freezing (typical Texas weather)– and pulled out my homework for the day. Zilker Park actually has free Wi-Fi and is a great place to get some fresh air and actually get some schoolwork done as well. I spent a couple hours at the park, casually glancing up from my homework to watch a myriad of dogs run about. From the next day onward, it was too cold to bike or spend a long period of time outside so unfortunately I probably won’t go back to Zilker before I head home for the holidays.
Luckily, my family was in town last weekend and I was able to show them some of my favorite places in Austin, including Zilker Park and Lady Bird Lake. We parked at Barton Springs and walked along the water, the same bike route that I take to get to Zilker. (seen below)
The leaves were beginning to fall and the trees weren’t as green as they usually are. The water was really low because I could see the bottom from standing on top of the same bridge I used to jump off of – and lost my sunglasses off of. (seen below)
When we got to the bridge at Lamar, there was an artifact on the stand in the water. It looked like tree spray painted white, and it was located in the middle of the lake. I found this sign at the top of the bridge on Lamar that explained what it was. It is a temporary installation that has a big meaning; it encourages everyone to remember his or her relationship to water as an important natural resource. Many trees were lost in the drought of 2011 so it is important to commemorate their loss and spread awareness of the water deprivation. The point of the installation is to promote conservation of water and sustainability throughout our daily lives. I thought it was especially interesting considering what we learned in class about water shortages and some ways we can reduce our water use.
In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold stated:
“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
― Aldo Leopold
The Thirst artifact discourages this abuse of land and seeks to bring people together to be more sustainable. If everyone works to enhance the community, the environment will reap so many positive benefits. I really enjoyed spending time near Lady Bird Lake and Zilker these past three months, and I will continue to spend more time outdoors and appreciate the environment Austin has to offer in the Spring.