Friday, May 24, 2024 May 24, 2024
88° F Dallas, TX

Law Man Walking: Nature Treks With Bill Holston

Into the Great Trinity Forest
Photo by Ben Sandifer

Saturday morning, there were a few drops of rain on my windshield. What a welcome sight! I was meeting Ben at 6:15 by the Loop 12 boat ramp. As I drove down Shiloh Road, Bob Dylan was singing:

Broken hands on broken ploughs
Broken treaties, broken vows
Broken pipes, broken tools
People bending broken rules
Hound dog howling, bull frog croaking
Everything is broken

Most days it seems that way. You might say our immigration system is broken, when the leaders of the state whose motto is “Friendship” string a line of deadly buoys in the Rio Grande. Our political systems seem beyond broken. But once I head into woods and prairies, things seem ordered and intact, even in a place as compromised as our own Trinity Forest.

I pulled into the parking lot and could see lightning flashing in the distance, to the south. Ben was already there, watching the storm. We hoped to see some cool migratory birds as soon as the sun was up. It was the best show in town, the branch lighting of a Texas thunderstorm. Soon, however, it was light enough to make out birds covering Little Lemmon Lake. First, we could see eight or nine beautiful pink Roseate Spoonbills. These birds are common on the Gulf Coast but a treat to see here. And spread all across the lake were a wide variety of other wading birds. We could see White Ibis and Great White Egrets. And especially fun were many solitary Great Blue Herons. They fiercely guarded their fishing spots and chased off other birds.

It’s a wonderful thing to stand next to a small lake 10 minutes from downtown Dallas and watch it filled with an abundance of wild birds. We sat at a distance so as not to disturb them and watched the show.  Eventually the Spoonbills got spooked by the flashes of lightning and flew away. We moved on.

We walked down the concrete path to a fishermen’s trail that goes over to the Trinity. We walked through the older timber there and made our way to the banks of the river. There was a cool breeze, which we really enjoyed after hiking through this brutally hot summer. We could see raindrops hitting the surface of the river and beautiful, huge, billowing clouds above us.

I’m currently reading an excellent book about the development of environmentalism in the United States, Douglas Brinkley’s Silent Spring Revolution. He quotes Rachel Carson writing about clouds: “Hidden in the beauty of the moving clouds is a story that is as old as the earth itself. Clouds are the writing of the wind on the sky.”

The sky darkened, and soon we were standing in a gentle rain. Neither of us tried to get under the trees or block the rain. I took off my hat and just let it soak my hair. Ben lifted his face to the sky and let the rain cool him off. It was simply glorious. It rained only a few minutes, but we relished it. After it was done, Ben said, “I think we just watched the season change.” I know we’ll get some hot days, but that unremitting hellscape of the summer has come to an end.

We decided to walk back to the concrete trail where it turns toward the Trinity River Audubon Center, before hiking back. We walked to an overlook of the Trinity where willows are beginning to take over the unsightly gabions that were placed to protect a waterline. It was a splendid, refreshing day. It felt good to be out.

Sunday, I managed to get in another hike. But before I did, I picked up my wife’s standard order at Starbucks: a strawberry Refresher and a blueberry scone. Because I’m a creature of habit, I always go to the same Starbucks at 635 and Northwest Highway. They know I’m picking up a drink for my wife before I go hiking. As I pulled to the window to get my drinks, the barista said, “I have to tell you something. Do you know the book The Lorax? That’s what we call you. We say, the Lorax is here!” I laughed and took that as a compliment. I did my usual hike at Spring Creek Forest in Garland. Some houseless people had camped there last week and left a lot of trash, so I took a garbage bag and hauled most of it out.

So instead of accepting that everything is broken, why not pack an extra garbage bag and remember the words of the actual Lorax: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

A final word about caring a whole awful lot: I just finished my third week working at the Dallas Eviction Advocacy Center. I’ve loved getting to know the badass team that Mark and Lauren Melton and their lead lawyer, Stuart Campbell, put together. They are fearless and competent. I hope you bear us in mind for the upcoming North Texas Giving Day. There are tons of worthy charities to which you can donate. We’re all fighting to make right a world where sometimes it can feel like everything is broken.


Bill Holston

Bill Holston