A Walk in the Park

April 21, 2010 at 12:27 am (By Amba)

Like a root cracking cement, Chapel Hill is starting to get through to me.  It’s taken three years, but I’m beginning to feel as if I live someplace besides just Planet Jacques.  My fractured mental map of this place, isolated snapshots from frazzled forays out to fetch this or that and rush back home again, is beginning to fuse into some kind of whole.

With me it’s not the culture (though I’m starting to be interested in that, too), it’s the nature.  I grew up in a city, Chicago, that at the time had a lot of big old trees and weedy wilderness left in its back alleys, back yards, and empty lots.  This is like that, only the town is much smaller and the green is bigger.  Whether by accident or design, or a combination of the two, there’s a lot of greenery streaked through the town — parks, leftover woods, greenways for biking and jogging built under the streets where, except for the distant swish and growl of cars, you can feel as if you’re deep in the country.  It’s reawakening the nature nut I was as a child.

Pushing Jacques along the Bolin Creek Trail greenway this afternoon, I kept stopping to examine things, locking J’s brakes so I could stray off the path, peering up into trees to try to locate and identify singing birds.  I made the unoriginal discovery, new to me, that birds of the same species make the same call very differently — they have individual voices.  Why don’t I know any of these trees’ names?  It seems as rude and alienating as not speaking a word of the language of the country you’re living in.  I found myself wanting to find the binoculars I won on Wheel of Fortune, wanting to get bird and tree field guides, or maybe to find a local botany course to take.  Natural History, baby!  Got the name, might as well have the game!North Carolina is very jungly, and probably was even before the introduction of kudzu, which now blankets and smothers everything, making bushes into tempting dark tents you want to crawl under.  The tree on the right has been pythonized by and has fused with some kind of vine.  Has the vine replaced the tree, or has the tree engulfed the vine?

“Bolin Creek” is probably as much a sewer as anything, but it’s pretty anyway.  It must swell enormously after a rainstorm, from the height to which its banks are carved out and tree roots like these exposed.  We want to walk over (it’s all of about two city blocks from home) someday right after a big rain to witness one of these flash floods.

There’s a fungus among us.


  1. david said,

    Me miss you & J…

  2. amba12 said,

    Well, come on over!

  3. Irene said,

    Very nice pictures and thanks for sharing with the group. So glad the weather is finally getting nice that some can do these type of outings!

  4. amba12 said,

    Thank you for visiting, Irene!

  5. Ruth Anne said,

    There’s a beautiful and familiar dignity in your man’s face.

  6. amba12 said,


  7. Courtney H. said,

    Thanks for sharing this, Annie. I’m missing Mother Nature (even the grungy parts) a lot right now and can’t get to her right now, so I enjoyed your expedition vicariously.

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