The Excitement of Exploration – Part I

Have you seen the wildness in your neighborhood?

My sister has inspired me (thank you!) to run. Or jog, in my case. When yesterday’s indoor computer work tangled me in malaise, I suddenly realized I was craving outdoor exercise. I did something uncharacteristic and donned workout clothes, stepped out my front door, and tried to employ proper technique.

I had no particular aim, but couldn’t have found a better destination. Because I went outside, I rediscovered the joy of exploring. I also gained insight into human nature (and therefore into some of history’s heroes and villains).

Explore. What you find outside (and within you) may surprise you.

My journey started unremarkably. I jog-ran for about 10 minutes through uninspiring suburbia. Suburbia, USA

I pondered whether suburban yards have more or less biodiversity than most wilderness preserves. I know what I assume, but what’s the real answer? Maybe there’s more biodiversity in a lawn than I realize. I distracted myself from the dull views, consoling myself by focusing on the unusually colorful Fall we’re having in North Texas.North Texas Fall Color

I was still trying to stave off disappointment when a gap in the end of a cul de sac caught my eye. Was that open space between those houses? Beyond those houses? I changed course with mounting hope. I rounded a fence and was met by this glorious view:Eureka!

Not the Grand Canyon, I admit. But compared to where I’d been, it seemed wild. That comparison is useful for those who dedicate their lives to sharing wilderness with others: what people are used to predicts what they’ll consider wild. It’s one of my life quests to learn how to enchant more people with the wilderness around them, and how to get them comfortable in increasingly wild settings. After all, if we don’t enjoy a place, are we going to care about it? Protect it? The likelihood is low.

I fantasized about the City and the nearby residents sculpting the open floodplain into the wilder flood-quelling bottomland hardwood forest it probably had been (and which the single sentinel Bois d’arc indicates).Bois d'arc

We’d start with the trees: add self-sufficient, low-maintenance trees like Cottonwoods, Bois d’arcs, Hackberries. Even adding a few fence posts safe from weed-whackers would give trees that propagate via bird droppings a great start. Get those going, just around the water’s edge. The next step would be native shrubs… flowering perennials… We’d create an evolving urban ecosystem replete with butterflies, red-eared pond sliders (even more than the three I saw), egrets, and happy, engaged citizens…

Before I got too lost in my wildscape-design/community-building fantasy, I noticed the wide, paved path narrowing toward colorful trees.The Trees Beckon

I was intrigued, and continued. I would have been happy enough with that change of scenery (from streets to floodplain to forest) but then THIS caught my eye:Is it a trail?

A trail! Or was it? As it turns out, the best is yet to come…

(To be continued)

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One thought on “The Excitement of Exploration – Part I

  1. Pingback: The Excitement of Exploration – Part II | the happy naturalist

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