Spring Terrain #68

As the earth absorbs water, it dries out and reforms. The rains carry silt, seeds, and sediment downhill toward hollows and swimming holes. Water comes unexpectedly, infrequently, and often all at once. Somehow the land has to adapt to those changes, taking water when it can and demanding nothing from it: not consistency, fidelity or gentleness.

Water here is fickle and often scarce. Nearly everything alive is constantly preoccupied with where it is, when it’s going to leave and when it’s coming back. Water overhwelms the dirt as it attempts to welcome the spring deluge. Much as it would like to, the soil cannot accommodate the quantity of water that comes through in spurts, so it does what it can to hold on to a little until the plants can take root.

Succulents balloon up with water, emerging from crannies and niches or multiplying in fractal patterns, growing new centers from old tendrils. There is hope they may be able to survive long into summertime, expanding their impermeable skins and filling themselves to bursting with life-sustaining liquid. Other leafier or more delicate plants don’t stand a chance against the summer.

I step carefully on the cracked ground, trying my best to avoid crushing this unfamiliar new growth. I would think nothing of walking over muddy grass on a trail because I know it would bounce back right after I left. These plants are different. While succulents can retain water for long periods of time, they can only do so if you leave them alone. Step on one or brush it the wrong way, and it will snap. Despite their marshmallowy appearance they are not meant to be touched.

This is a segment from a photo essay “Spring Arrives in Central Texas”

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