After a summer in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, my children and I returned to Houston, their father, and our little house in the middle of a tangle of freeways. We were happy to see friends and family but also dismayed by the heat, the pavement, the billboards and power lines that suddenly replaced views of our beloved mountains. However, determined not to denigrate the city where we live and the people we love, we set out to find nature here.
But where could I find anything as magical as we had seen on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Olympic Rain Forest or Mount Rainier?
By looking up, it turns out.
Tropical storms in the gulf over the past few days have blown several gorgeous skies our way, afternoons with luminous light and fleeting ever-changing clusters of thunderheads that peered at us from behind tree tops, and perhaps all the more beautiful for their brief stay on the horizon.
You find what you look for.
Interestingly, it turns out that I am not alone in seeking to appreciate nature here in East Texas. The more closely, I look, the more I find. My neighbors have planted abundant flowers along the sidewalks, and the region's bird and plant-rich prairies are making friends among conservationists and the general population. The prairies are not as easy, not as dramatically spectacular as Muir's Woods, but magical in their own way.
Best of all, Houston has realized that our miles of bayous are potential parkways right under our noses. Now bike paths and bridges are snaking their way below the traffic and along the waterways, providing an attractive alternative transportation and escape from the concrete. Suddenly Houstonians can get out of their cars and enjoy beauty that we never realized we had.