A Walk in the Park!

logo and photo from Tom Buck

Saturday was the first ever Lochwood Park Nature Walk. But thanks to Tom Buck we already have the most wonderful logo (left) and thanks to an enthusiastic and engaged group of walkers I think we all enjoyed ourselves and some might even do it again!

We met at the Lochwood Park pavilion about 11 on Saturday the 18th of April, after some of us had helped the Clean the Green park clean-up that Helen Stettler had once again organized (thank you so much, Helen, you do so many things to make this neighborhood what it is). There is more about that on the Lochwood Neighborhood Facebook page.

While I am responsible for all mistakes and misunderstandings on the trip, Bill Holston kindly joined us so that we had a Master Naturalist in our presence. [The Texas Master Naturalist program is a really great deal, jointly developed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. ] I’ve been doing some in-depth study to determine if there is anything Bill can’t do and do well. If I ever find something, I’ll be sure to report it. You can find out more about some of Bill’s interests on his blog.  [It’s a bit intimidating to find things, but well worth the time. If you use the menu hidden on the right hand side you can see the breadth of his interests.] Bill knows not only trees and flowers, but most birds, and has a vast fund of general natural knowledge.

Eleven of us eventually set out, including three children. That, for me, was perhaps the best part. It was so encouraging to see a Dad and son, a Dad and daughter, and someone who brought their grandson. Excellent! This is the only way that we can hope for natural places and spaces to have any hope for survival in the future. It’s great for old folks like me to be out there enjoying God’s creations, but unless that joy is being passed along to new generations, all that’s left of the natural world will get buried by another restaurant or theme park. All-told, we ranged from four and a half to the far side of seventy.

We quickly learned how many species of oaks there are, and the variety of opinions as to what a species is. Brad, who brought his son along, was a great help with some of the trees. Thanks Brad! We also saw how well some shrub impersonates poison ivy, which Bill taught has a good rhyme for avoiding – If leaves of three, leave it be. Indeed. Good advice.

We got to see not only the beauty of nature in the waterfalls, and beautiful greens of the new spring leaves, but also the senseless vandalism of people who cut down trees just to cut them down. Last month someone went into the forest and sawed down the tree a Cooper’s hawk had nested in last year. And others had dug a series of dirt bike jumps, and left scars that will take at least a decade to heal. My hope is that as more people see what beauty and tranquility there is in a local park like this, there will be more people who want to protect these parks, and discourage others from destroying them.

One highlight of the trip was our youngest member’s enthusiasm for a good-sized green caterpillar. Rather than be afraid of it, she carried it around on the palm of her hand for the whole trip, and informed us she was taking it home to show her mom. I hope you encouraged her, Mom!

After a circuit of the west side of the park, we ended where we started, at the pavilion. Here is a picture of the whole group. You were all a great group, and I look forward to doing this again!

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