Over the 4th of July weekend, I took my camera to San Solomon Springs. I was tired of admiring everyone else's snapshots of the pool and thought since I live here I should post some of my own pictures to the blog.
I didn't see a soul from Balmorhea, which is fine since they never see me there either. For a former Barton Springs Polar Bear from Austin, who swam (nearly) every day for years in snow and sunshine, I have scant excuse for coming so seldom to the pool here at Balmorhea State Park. It rivals Barton Springs in every way except for the persistent environmental threats posed by Austin development. In fact, I felt so guilty, being a "local" with so little time to come out and relax, that I purchased a season pass with a personal commitment to come more often and haven't been back.
While I was at the pool, a small group of women and their daughters caught my attention next to me. They were lazily feeding breadcrumbs to the catfish and the thousands and thousands of minnows and pupfish swimming up from the bottom. What a sight! While I was standing there, camera in hand, too respectful of their privacy and too shy to invade for a picture, one of the more socially outgoing of their kids noticed my interest and came to drag me into the center of their catfish picnic.
It didn't take much of a nudge really and in the midst of their vacation I had the honor to enjoy a brief conversation with the group's elder states-person, Beth Pratt, the retired religion editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. We talked about journalism and she related some of her 25-years of experience. It was my first interview as a "journalist" following a 20-year counseling career.
Saturday, the article Ms. Pratt began writing while vacationing here in Balmorhea was published, so I thought I'd share parts of it, provide photos and link to the Avalanche for the rest of her article.
"...An Opportunity to 'Be still and know I am God'"
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Story last updated at 7/19/2008 - 1:34 am
For seven years, beginning when Addison was 3, a group of young women every year booked a week at Balmorhea State Park about 100 miles south of Odessa. Every year I heard about the great spring-fed pool with little fish swimming all around and a big turtle on the bottom.
More than 25 feet deep in parts of the pool, the clearness of the water is deceptive. Addison can swim all the way to the bottom. The group changed yearly as children grew and circumstances changed. This year they invited a granny along, this granny. Four school teachers, four little girls ages 6 to 11, and one granny.
As I write, the week is just beginning. The others are off to the pool by midmorning and I sit on the patio of our unit, across from a rock-lined channel that circulates the water through the park, another three miles to the town and a fishing lake and where else I do not know.
I have yet to get into the water, but I'm told it is cold, but not as cold as the Roaring Springs pool. I went for a morning walk with the girls to see the pool for the first time. I stuck my toe in the water, and I am thinking maybe I can do this.
I was sad when the Roaring Springs pool was no longer available to the general public because in dry West Texas it was an oasis about 30 miles from where I grew up south of Dougherty. But it is still, without a doubt, the coldest water south of Alaska!
I am still transitioning into retirement, which means I have a long way to go before I get to the point of not having urgent business that has to be done before I can play.
Growing up as a farm kid, play and work all ran together, but summers were more about work as we grew old enough to man a hoe handle. There was neither money nor time for that strange activity called vacation. Then I grew up and married a farmer, so I still don't know much about vacation.
But I'm going to learn.
Modern life with its electric lights brought us great benefits, but it also brought some negatives along. Now, we can work 24 hours a day. Productivity is the key to success. Activity is the key to vacation. So, what is missing?
Where is the time to think, to dream and as Scripture says, "to be still and know that I am God," the great I Am who gave life that we might be companions to each other and to the Creator.
Parks such as Balmorhea give relatively inexpensive opportunity to turn aside and take time to rest in body, mind and spirit.
Photos by Cliff Hammond
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