Tyson, December 2015

“There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” – Aldo Leopold

 This semester has brought on many new insights on how I perceive the environment. I can attribute this to the class, my project, and my nature blog adventures. Before this semester, I saw environmental issues as something much larger than the city I live in or the town I grew up in. To me, environmental issues dealt with the effects on glaciers of global warming, acid rain, water pollution from factories, etc.

For some reason, I disregarded the problems happening right in my back yard. I think this is the most important take away that I got out of this class, because it made me think deeper into the root causes of most environmental issues. I was able to see the environment under a microscope when I decided to do my nature blogs at my own workplace as well as in my hometown.

I think people forget about nature and the environment when they live in cities such as Austin, where they are surrounded by skylines and apartments going up every month. If you look deeply, you can find nature all around you. It just takes more effort. I feel lucky to live in a place like Austin where I can find beautiful landscapes and parks tucked away behind urban neighborhoods. I especially realized this while analyzing the world cloud, in which I saw the word “different”. I could not agree more that Austin is different. Its a place where the community cares about the environment and looking at things other than traffic and giant festivals. Its a place where people appreciate the greenery. This is evident in the word cloud from all of our nature blogs because you can see people acknowledge the “creeks”, “water”, “trees” and most importantly how “beautiful” we see our community, even in the midst of triple digit weather.

word cloud

Although I have always noticed the seasonal changes in Austin since I have lived here for around 19 years, it still inspired me to look deeper into the changes in regards to specific locations.

In September, I still couldn’t get over how hot it still was, almost making it hard to notice the nature around me. Not to mention, I decided to write about my work, so I was very familiar with all of my surroundings, or so I thought. There was nothing really out of the ordinary to me at first and none of the animals that inhabit the golf course were out. I was able to get some pictures of the vegetation, flora, and fauna of the golf course on that humid day. However, not even the plants looked very green or the flowers blossomed. I attributed this to the hot summer weather of Texas.

In October, I had more luck in several aspects. Not only were the ducks, turtles, and cranes out, but the plants and flowers were in much better shape. The weather was much cooler, allowing for all of the flora and fauna to breathe compared to the past hot, humid months. October’s blog was different, however, because we had just recently watched a documentary and learned about Atrazine. I vividly remember one of the scenes being in a suburban neighborhood in which the researchers were walking around a green pond trying to catch the frogs and toads. They were doing this to if there had been any effects of the fertilizer, Atrazine, on these creatures. This worried be because the pond resembled the many ponds at the golf course, used to make obstacles for the players. Whether the animals that live there are accidental or placed there for show is unsure, but I couldn’t help but think about all of the fertilizers used on the golf course that must have ended up in each of these ponds. I was worried by not only the fertilizers, but other chemicals that also found their way into these habitats.

In November, I went for a nostalgic stroll along my childhood park. My trip there was actually just meant to be a day for me to take advantage of the beautiful weather and take my dog outside, but it ended up turning into my November blog because I was so taken back by what I had seen. I saw a myriad of beautiful trees with red, orange, and yellow leaves surrounding them, an image that looked straight out of a New York Central Park magazine. But I also saw many changes to the park both aesthetically, and biologically. I realized that most of the bridges had been restored as well as the picnic tables and playscapes. I also noticed how low the water was in the San Gabriel, which encompasses the park. I left my childhood park that day with many mixed feelings.

This experience has made me notice more aspects of nature overall. In particular, I became more aware of the actual species living in Austin, both invasive such as the parakeets at the golf course, and native, such as the turtles. It also helped me take more notice of how the seasons specifically impact my community.

“We abuse land because we see 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 

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