Restoration Springs

If you have watched the news closely over the last few weeks, you may have seen reports of something odd going on during the COVID pandemic.

Global air pollution has dramatically declined. Water in the canals of Venice has cleared, devoid of boat traffic.  The Himalayas are visible from Punjab for the first time in thirty years thanks to clearer skies. Nature is showing us that it can heal itself given an opportunity. 

The conservation community knew this long before the pandemic. Restoration stories abound, from Bald Eagles, Eastern Wild Turkeys. In the world's first national park, Yellowstone Cutthroat trout and wolves are retaking their rightful places.

Summer Steelhead of the Elwah have returned in significant numbers. This only a few years after the removal of two dams that blocked their path to the sea for a century. The short film "From the Ashes" by Trout Unlimited, documents this amazing story.

We intuitively know that nature is restorative for us. I have a collection of old outdoor magazines from the late 1940s with stories of veterans returning to woods and waters to assuage the horrors of war.

Spend a little time with Project Healing Waters , Trout Unlimited's Veteran Service Partnership 
Reel Recovery or Casting for Recovery for confirmation of the healing power of nature. It is still on the job restoring minds and bodies.

The restoration of nature is a full circle, resulting in our own restoration. 

Visits to the Elwah River and Yellowstone are unavailable at present with the restrictions currently in place. Still, my soul recently longed for some nature therapy.

Brushy Creek to the rescue. This stream runs through the back of my neighborhood, and over the years has become the source of many quick nature trips. This time I selected a reach I had not visited for several years.

The Austin area sits astride two geological features: The Edwards Plateau (aka "the Hill Country), a limestone uplift to the west, and the Blackland Prairies to the east. That union plus the underground aquifers make the edge of the Hill Country the birthplace of of many springs. But some springs cease to run during our frequent Texas droughts. 

My last visit had been during a long hard drought. The creek still flowed then, but it was more subdued. Today I heard the noise of falling water. 

The cool springs along the high bank were an unexpected pleasure. During the drought these springs were silent.  Only only a few maidenhair ferns clung near the waterline back then. Now they covered the entire bank, lush and green, extending  some 25 feet up above my head.

Two years of near normal rainfall transformed this reach. Multiple rivulets chortled forth for nearly 70 yards, feeding the creek with clear cool water.The sound alone was a tonic - and a reminder.

The drought years reminded me to appreciate the springs when they returned. Likewise social distancing is reminding us to appreciate those dear to us - co-workers,  neighbors, friends, and family, when they are able to return to us..

Perhaps our breakneck pace of western life requires jarring from time to time by drought, storm or pestilence. We need to be shaken from the fog of  ever "more" back to the realization of what we had...and can have again. 



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