Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Bastrop State Park

I was unhappy to learn over Labor Day weekend that much of Bastrop State Park has burned to the ground. The park is in Bastrop County, Texas, not far southeast of Austin. It isn't a large park, a little shy of 6,000 acres, but it is distinctive for its loblolly pines -- a patch of piney-green East Texas dropped into Central Texas.

I've been there more recently, but my fondest memories of Bastrop are of two camping trips to the park with high school friends in the spring and summer of 1979. If I pause for a moment, I can picture the campsite, the fire we tended late into the night, the sloping ground nearby blanketed by pine needles and rich in pine cones -- which we spent time throwing at each other. I can hear the voices of my friends, but not quite what we said during our many and varied conversations (we had no electronic entertainment, and were better for it). I can almost smell the pines, but I'd need to visit a stand of loblollies for the memory to return with any olfactory gusto.

Over the weekend, wildfires encouraged by the windy leftover of Hurricane Lee ravaged the drought-dried Bastrop SP and, unfortunately, hundreds of homes in the vicinity. I understand that loblolly pines grow back quickly, but still. It's a damned shame.

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