(click to enlarge)
In late September Benjamin’s mommy showed him, and me, that she can climb a tree. Even after 16 years of marriage, she surprises.*
Every time we make a getaway to our favorite nearby woods — Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano — I’m at once glad that Benjamin is getting out on the trail and sad that it’s the best we can offer him without driving three hours or more.
That said, within Arbor Hills’ 200 acres we get a small taste of almost everything I love about the outdoors: trails, hills, streams, wildflowers, and waterfalls. When we step off the paved path and hit the trail, we leave 99% of the other people behind.
In a high spot on the back corner, there’s a glade with several large patches of prickly pear cactus. Similar to my childhood home, in that spot I can throw a rock in every direction — except one — and not hit a building. Unlike back home, it happens to be multi-level, multi-family housing, but a quick turn and a short memory fix that.
A negative review of this haven had me shaking my head. The person gave it one out of five stars because her dog got bit by a copperhead during their visit. Although that must have been traumatic, it doesn’t seem quite right to slam a place called “Nature Preserve” because there was — eek! — wildlife there.
Plus, it could have been a rattlesnake. Or one of the bobcats that roam the area.
That lady’s dog notwithstanding, Arbor Hills is great because “wild” takes on a completely different meaning than in its visitors’ everyday lives. In the suburbs of the nation’s sixth-largest city, we’re fortunate to have it at all.
* Shannon doesn’t like the opening picture of herself because her eyes are “half-closed.”