The Ephemeral Cairn Gardens Of the Austin Greenbelt

A Photo Journal and Meditation

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A friend and I met for lunch at a local taco shack near the city’s greenbelt, where he planned to take his mountain bike out for a cruise along the trails. As it was a pleasant Autumn afternoon and there was nothing keeping me, I decided to take a walk through the beautiful sun-soaked woods myself.

After tacos we made our way to the trail head together, at which point he asked in what direction I was headed.

“I don’t know,” was my reply.

Mounting his trusty carbon-fiber steed he took off and soon disappeared around a bend leaving me there alone.

Looking down the trail to my left, then up the trail to my right … then back to the left again, as if awaiting some unseen force to propel me in either direction, but feeling no particular pull, I finally rested my gaze upon an opening in the trees just in front of where I stood, and so up the middle I went.

Stepping through the woods about forty or so feet, I came out onto a bone-dry creek bed which I then followed. Poking along haphazardly up the old creek bed for ten minutes or more, I looked up and was suddenly bewildered by what I saw.

Not far off in the distance I could just begin to make out what seemed to resemble stalagmites – a group of twisted, spindling, rocky spires that reminded me of something I might have once seen in Southeastern Utah or the caverns of New Mexico.

As I drew closer it was impossible to suppress a smile.

Here is what I found ….

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Thoughts of a Grisly Beast

Looking out over a nearby lake one morning, I observed as the fish were occasionally throwing themselves into the air and flopping back down again, to snatch at some tiny insect skimming the otherwise placid water. I noticed too that there were some birds hovering about, who without warning would suddenly dive down like Kamikaze fighter pilots crashing through the surface of the water, only to emerge up into the sky again moments later.

As I contemplated the scene before me, I put it together in my mind’s eye that while some hapless water-bug bandied about the surface of the lake in search of a nibble of algae, blind to the dangers below, a no less unsuspecting fish reaching to satisfy its own appetite would thereby make itself a mark for a hovering gull, and, had I been set on making a meal for myself and armed for it too, I likewise would have taken the gull’s singular trajectory toward it’s breakfast as the opportune moment to strike.

Still, I imagined further, that lining up for my shot with steadied breath and focused concentration, there might well be some more grisly beast lurking just outside my periphery, biding it’s time to stick the proverbial fork in me, so I thought better of it.

nature of the beasts

Image credit: Naiya Cassidy