God in heaven, the Greenbelt! It runs 7.25 miles through the city, a rocky trail that’s smooth in places, surrounded by trees. Everyone runs, walks, and bikes on it. Sometimes it’s officially leash-free, sometimes it’s just leash-free by virtue of this is Texas so fuck your rules (and Austin dog etiquette is pretty solid — I never had a bad run-in with a loose dog, myself).
After a good rain, park at the entrance in Zilker and walk the comfortable mile or so to where the creek widens and rushes. There’s a flat rock in the middle where college girls sun themselves, hippie boys strum guitars — even the college guys don’t seem so douchey drinking their Lone Stars and throwing Frisbees — and urbanists, like Turtle (below) hang out and trade joints for stories.
Yes, that’s Chloe. In our younger days, Chloe and I would go together. Turtle is the one who looks like Neptune, all gray curls and a torso like a leather saddle. He made roses out of river grass for the girls and told us he knows where to forage for wild foods and how to sharpen sticks to fight the wild dogs that will roam free when the apocalypse comes. When Austin cycles through its Turtles (and Lobsters and Leslies…that’s for another post) it will be minus a significant organ. Maybe its heart, I don’t know. I hope not.
I think I might head down there on Friday — we’ve had some good surprise rain this week — and say goodbye to the Greenbelt and its river people. Maybe I’ll find Turtle braiding grass bracelets and warning calamity. Maybe I won’t laugh so readily this time.
(Apologies for the grainy pictures — taken on a clamshell phone circa 2006.)