Trapani, January

January is one of my favorite months, mainly because it is my birthday month but also because of the weather. In Texas, January is the only month that resembles some sort of a winter. This year though, in Austin we have experienced some pretty low temperatures. Last Friday we had a snow day and just yesterday we had yet another. So for my destination I decided to explore the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve. I have always wanted to go venture there since I have seen many friends post neat pictures of it and since it is so close to campus. Walking to it is so interesting because you go from a commercial area and walk almost straight into a forest. It is really remarkable to have such opposites right next to each other; the man-made and the natural. I think that is what makes the nature preserve so interesting to me. Once along the trail within the preserve, the first thing I noticed was the moisture in the soil. I assume that it was from the frost melting from the “snow” day before. The next thing I notice is how it is an absolutely gorgeous day. There is very little cloud cover and the sun is shining so bright. The temperature was 48 degrees so the air was cool and crisp but the warmth of the sun made the outdoors so inviting. Honestly I couldn’t have asked for a better day to go exploring. After acknowledging the sun’s warmth, I glanced up to spot its location. It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon so the sun wasn’t directly above but shifting toward the west. That’s when I grabbed my phone to snap this beautiful picture of the sun shimmering through the trees.

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Continuing my walk I am enjoying the vast amounts of trees there are to view. Surrounding me are a number of different species of trees. Some have lost their leaves for the winter, others still have brown and orange leaves still grasping to the branches from the fall, and some even have green leaves that never changed colors. What I admire most though are the trees that grow over the trail, giving you a feeling that you are walking through a tunnel, but not a man-made tunnel, a natural one. I ponder as to why some trees grew that way, what made them start growing at an angle. Did another tree fall on it? Did it begin growing on a hill? What forces caused it to grow in a somewhat unusual manner? Questions like this remind me that the wilderness in nature can create many unique creations.

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Along with these beautiful live trees, I notice that there are many, many dead trees and limbs scattered everywhere. My guess is that they are the victims from the awful drought Austin is still in the process of recovering. Though I also realize that the decaying of these dead limbs and trees are creating some great soil for other plants as it contains vast amounts of nutreints. Also it seems as thoguh a number of different animals have made shelters and homes from the fallen trees. While walking I hear the rummaging of squirrels as they chase each other from tree to tree. I don’t see them though and they do a good job of remaining incognito. I know its squirrels though because I recognize the sound of their claws scrapping against the bark on the trees. I also hear a number of different birds but I can’t see them either. I finally come across the creek. The whole walk I can hear the rippling of the water but couldn’t see much of it because it was in a sort of valley. The water is surprisingly beautiful and clear. The rocks though are covered in algae, at least that’s what I am amusing it is. I decide to sit there for a bit as it seems like a good spot to observe.

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I love how the water is so clear in this picture you can see a perfect reflection of the trees. It amazes me how such clear water can exist in such close proximity to the city. Getting a moment to admire this spot makes me realize the importance in preserving nature in such a fast growing city, such as Austin. It brings me to the quote by Aldo Leopold when he writes,

“The problem, then, is how to bring about a striving for harmony with land among a people many of whom have forgotten there is any such thing as land, among whom education and culture have become almost synonymous with landlessness. This is the problem of conservation education.”

Luckily in Austin, there are many parks and forests to go explore but in most cities these do not exist. When people are unable to go explore nature and appreciate it’s beauty, then it becomes hard for them to care about it and understand its importance.

I am excited to see how this spot will change over the next four months. I also hope to get to visit the creek at my ranch in Fayetteville, Texas and see how the two compare.

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-Cailyn

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