What the Car Saw in Spring: “Progress”

March 7, 2020

What the Car Saw in Spring: “Progress”


Being mindful, looking at my surroundings, sometimes the urge to capture a moment strikes when I least expect it.

At a red light.



Looking, and perhaps more importantly, seeing.

I’ve said these very things before. You probably remember.

I was driving in the next town over from us, Spring, Texas, when I was moved to capture this image the other day. Thus the title, What the Car Saw in Spring. It also feels like spring, so there’s a duality. I like double meanings, don’t you?

Wildflowers, a gnarled tree and a "coming soon" sign for a new gas station, beneath a bright blue sky with puffy clouds

But the Spring/spring vision isn’t all bunnies and sunshine, although there’s some blue sky in the background and cheery yellow wildflowers in the foreground. The story this picture tells is the relentless march of “progress” and how we continue to eradicate nature in favor of more and more and more and MORE cement and “convenience”. From that perspective, the black and white version of this photo seems more apropos.

Dead tree, cement road, wildflowers, in black and white

That sign you can’t read in the middle there? It signifies that a new gas station is coming. There are already 6 gas stations within 2 miles of this one, with another new one being built a mile away, on the next corner of the freeway. Really.

And yet.

The wildflowers still bloom, abundantly, blithely, beautifully. Nature will just pop up wherever it finds a space.

The trees in this picture are also an important part of the tale. Someone has planted the small oak on the far left; you can see it best in the color photo. Yay for Someone! I would buy you a coffee if I knew who you were. Actually, it was probably tax dollars that did it, so I will treat myself to the coffee. Why don’t you have a coffee, too, Dear Reader, and celebrate that little tree? It needs all the help it can get in this paved-over world.

But there’s another tree, the star of the photo, right there in the middle. Here’s a closeup.

This tree’s glory days in Spring are over and all that remains are gnarled, dead branches spreading from its trunk and artfully spearing the sky, but I bet it could tell some stories: “What the Tree Saw”. It has a very thick trunk, and could even be a couple of hundred years old. Spring had native Americans in the early 1800s, the Orcoquiza tribe. Stephen F. Austin’s colonists came to Spanish-owned Texas in the 1820s, and German immigrants settled here after Texas won its independence to make it their home in the 1840s, staying put as Texas became part of the United States of America. As in many areas, there’s not much left of the Native American culture, but the influence of the German settlers, who continued to migrate here, is everywhere. In fact, most of the schools have German names: Klein, Krimmel, Bernhausen, Hildebrandt, Schindewolf, Wunderlich and many more. After the Civil War came the railroads, along with a farming expansion, a sawmill, sugar mills and cotton gins, accompanied by churches, schools and of course, banks to handle all this commerce. Bank robberies were frequent, and there’s talk that one of them was perpetrated by none other than Bonnie and Clyde. I imagine that the tree saw all this as it was growing, providing its shade to passers-by, through all of those periods…whether they were Native Americans, transplanted Germans, farmers or bank robbers. The stories it could tell…

So what killed this venerable tree that was witness to all that history? Most likely, it was the floods of Hurricane Harvey, which rendered much of Spring a lake for days on end in August of 2017. You remember Harvey – Houston and its surrounding areas was in the news for days and days, not just because of the storm but also the catastrophic flooding that followed, and the deaths.

More about Hurricane Harvey is here

Was our tree one of the casualties of Harvey? Or was it already dead-tired and weary, and then the years-long construction of the 75-mph tollway just next to it delivered the final blow? I don’t guess we’ll ever know.

There’s some uncharacteristic gloom in today’s post, but that can happen with mindfulness. Taking everything in sometimes means reflecting on the darkness.

The existence of the darkness accents the brilliance of the Light.

And just to end on a brighter note, here’s a geranium taken in the backyard last month with my new close-up lens. Spring comes on early and colorful at Glover Gardens.

pink geranium, close up

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