Monday, June 30, 2008


The blur in this photo is the UT rowing team flashing by on Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake to you old timers).

When we announced our intention to give up our house in the urban 'burbs (not that far out but with a little land around the house and a creek behind) people would 'tour' the backyard and sometimes they would wave a hand around and say "but won't you miss all this?"

We'd think of the time we spent working on the place, planting and weeding and chopping and the expense of paying others in recent years to do mowing and edging. (I once edged myself with a weed whacker. Whoa. That was hard on the back!) "No," we'd say uneasily.

"But you had all those great parties!"

We would both think, at that point, of all the effort to get things looking perfect, about how hard it was to get the ponds looking good and squirting water, about cleaning out the potting shed dozens of times (fighting against rat squatters often enough). About trying to have fish in the ponds when the raccoons like sushi. We'd think of the four of five giant cans of Yard Guard fog it took to tamp the mosquitoes for a four to six hour period for a party. We created an illusion of green wonder. But it was an illusion. Sometimes we used the yard for our own pleasure. We'd sit at the solid limestone picnic table after a party inside when the weather was nice. Or we would take The New York Times outside on a Sunday and lounge on our chaises and read and doze. (We'd often have to ignite citronella sticks and spray insect repellent on ourselves to avoid the bites.)

If we wanted to wander nature beyond our contained area, we could occasionally (during drought) walk in the Shoal Creek bed. Or we could go to Ramsey Park a mile away (and boring to boot, all developed with a ball field, swimming pool, playground and no interesting natural stuff although one time I saw Austin's monk parrots in the trees there). Northwest Park, a bit further afield has a nice pond. There is a wet land park behind Central Market that is kind of nice. Point? I do have one.

From our downtown condo, we can be on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail in about a minute. There are things growing. There are swans. And last night I happened to look out the windows at about 8:20 and there were curling black ribbons over the lake which I recognized as the Mexican Free-Tailed bats going out to dinner. It was really an amazing view of them, showing no individual bats but the flight patterns (in several directions) of the whole group. (Yesterday we walked under the Congress Avenue Bridge and smelled the bats, too, by the way.) It is a better view from our place than from the Four Seasons where they are just curly streams but you are close enough that the patterns aren't as obvious. I'll have to walk down to the bridge some time and see that angle. (Although inside in the cool with a drink is my favorite way to watch nature. Not really. Well, sort of.)

We hope the move will be green in another way, too, eventually. (When we don't still have the house and our parents in two other houses.) We hope we will use our own two feet to walk to get groceries, dry cleaning, eat out, buy stuff. That we won't drive somewhere every day to get exercise. (I haven't given up tennis and it's a little far to walk there, I think. At least in the current weather.) We could walk to a lot of things in the old neighborhood (which can't be said for a lot of truly suburban areas).

So for everyone who thinks we've given up a private park for a bunch of sidewalks, well not so much. And no watering bill!

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