Law Man Walking: Nature Treks With Bill Holston

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Saturday, I walked out on the deck to have my usual banana and oatmeal to fortify for the hike. Yeah, call me Wild Bill. I was immediately struck by the wind and 38-degree temperature. We’d get one more cold weather hike in this year! I filled my thermos with coffee, read a Psalm, and drove down to meet Ben and Carrie at the parking lot off of Jim Miller. On the way, I listened to the music of Dirtmusic, an American-Australian band that teamed up with Turkish psych rockers BaBa Zu La on the album Bu Bir Ruya. The album has a migration theme; more about that later.

We parked at the parking lot next to the baseball field on Jim Miller (just south of Scyene) and headed to the trailhead, which is off of the drive into Grover Keaton Golf Course. For those interested in this good hike, its beginning is slightly tricky. You need to look for a kiosk at the edge of the woods on the left as you drive or walk in. It’s not easy to see, but the trail is quite clear and easy to follow. You’ll be rewarded for your effort. The trail climbs onto the top of the White Rock Escarpment, the series of hills that run from the southwest part of Dallas County to the north. The trail follows the top of the escarpment through mixed woods of Shin Oak and Redbud. We picked this hike to see if wildflowers were blooming in the small prairie at the top of the escarpment. The only thing really blooming in the prairie was Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus, which was close to the end of the bloom. We walked to the spot where you can look out over the immense woods that are essentially the floodplain for White Rock Creek, green as far as you can see. If you are looking for a short hike to explore our local nature, this is a good beginning.

As we descended to cross Bruton Road for the continuation of the trail, we saw some blooming Square Bud Primrose, Calylophus. We crossed Bruton and found the trail, which is a bit hard to detect here. We’ve hiked it many times, however, and made our way through the floodplain and back up on the escarpment. There are dense woods and there are multiple spots to stop and see a view of downtown Dallas and our signature bridges from the east, which is not a common sight. The trail crosses another native prairie, and we were thrilled to find blooming Foxglove. Penstemon digitalis. There will be more flowers blooming in a few weeks. We stopped for a break beneath an ancient Red Oak at the end of the trail. We returned by the same trail until we got back to Keaton. We wanted to hike to the top of the Scyene overlook, which is, in my mind, one of the most scenic spots in the county. Again, the trailhead is not so clear. There is another old kiosk. Once you find the trailhead, the trail is easy to follow through thick woods of Hackberry, Pecan, and Ash. The cutoff over to the Scyene overlook is hard to find. It’s actually where there’s a crossing of the DART tracks, which you can see through the woods. There a trail to the right heads up to the top of the Scyene overlook. At the top, you arrive at one of the best spots in the county to see fall colors as the white rock bluff is covered in Red Oak. A flock of Cedar Waxwings flew over as we stood at the top. Ben pointed out a patch of blooming Locoweed (not what you think)

This was a fun hike and a welcome end to the week. As usual, the week was full and stressful. I’d had the rare treat of speaking on a panel with some local human rights heroes in connection with some literary heroes. Will Evans’ publishing company, Deep Vellum, was releasing the book >Banthology, translated works from authors who were the subject of the travel ban. On the panel with me was: Imam Omar Suleiman, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research; Susanna Lubanga, Interim Executive Director of International Rescue Committee in Texas; and Chris Hamilton and Paul Wingo, Dallas volunteer lawyers at the DFW Airport. Dr. Larry Allums from Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture moderated the discussion.

The theme was about the travel ban, and I have to say it was a pretty bleak discussion. All of the panelists are unhappy about the fact that the United States is backing away from its longstanding policy of extending refuge for those fleeing persecution. The bleak tone changed with the voice of Sara, a young refugee from Iraq. She’s here with her father, but the rest of her family is stuck in Iraq, victims of our policies. Out of all of us, she had the most reason for bitterness. When asked if she was hopeful, she replied that after the first travel ban she lost hope. But then, when she saw all people responding and watched change actually happen, it was something she’d never seen before, and therefore she’s very hopeful for the future.

I am in love with our community. I love my hiking friends, which add so much joy to my life. Even more, I love the human rights community in our city, people that are fighting for others. Being on the stage with Iman Suleiman, who, as Zac Crain has written, is such a strong moral voice for our community, is encouraging to me. We are not alone, and as the Imam puts it, “We will win.:

On the album Bu Bir Ruya, the Canadian Brenna MacCrimmon sings (a frequent collaborator with Turkish musicians) voices an anxiety nightmare of constantly walking along a wall, looking for a gate. “Maybe,” she concludes, “there’s safety in numbers”

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