“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” -Confucius
Compiling my notes for this blog has led me to the following conclusion: I am always distracted! Since I moved to Austin I have made it a weekly habit to go for a jog around Town Lake. During these jogs, I am either listening to music, scrolling through my phone, or thinking about what I have to do later that day. I never even paid attention to the sights and sounds around me. When I was thinking about a place in nature that I would like to observe for this blog, Town Lake never even came to mind. I didn’t think there was anything interesting enough to talk about. I had only ever paid attention to the track. This past week while I was jogging something special happened. It was a beautiful Monday afternoon around 3pm. It had warmed up to about 70 degrees, but there was still a nice breeze; perfect running weather. I stopped to catch my breath after about a mile and noticed a sitting area to my left. Normally I would avoid the areas with benches because they were usually so crowded, but the track was practically empty today. I sat down at the bench and realized that I had just entered a thriving secluded ecosystem inside a metropolitan park.
Aldo Leopold says “parks are made to bring the music to the many, but by the time many are attuned to hear it there is little left but noise.” I can relate to this quote in the sense that I never even noticed the beauty of this park because it has become such a human attraction. I had never really observed the trees on the track, but they were quite intriguing. The trees that surrounded this area took me into a whole different atmosphere. The large, thick roots rose above the ground and spiraled around each other. They could have definitely been a safety hazard if I wasn’t watching my steps.
The crisp tree branches were all tangled into a giant dark cluster that looked like it belonged in a horror film. There were also some charcoaled leaves sprouting out of the small plants on the ground.
Some of the leaves had little pieces of dead fruit attached. It will be interesting to see how these leaves change as the months go by. I was so taken aback by the trees and the plants that I didn’t even notice the swarm of mallards coming towards me. Even though the plants were dead, the creatures that inhabited this area were full of life. In no time, I was surrounding by 20 mallards waiting at the edge of the lake and I immediately felt bad that I didn’t bring any food. Judging by their desperation, it became apparent to me that most of their food comes from pedestrians that throw them bread or other treats. The mallards were not the only birds that approached me. This park was full of courageous birds looking for a snack.
Luckily Town Lake had a glossary of all the birds in the area, so I was able to identify some of the braver ones.
I hope that as I continue to come to this park I will be able to see every Town Lake bird.