Along the (Other) Riverwalk
So in the process of exploring Phil Hardberger Park a little bit at a time over the last three or four Sundays - being that we have taken the dog to the dog-park there for a vigorous romp, followed by a brisk walk along one of the trails - last week, we thought we should explore the Salado Creek Greenway, which rambles from the old Voelcker farmstead buildings more or less north towards Huebner Road. The trail is completely paved, and winds a gentle way through stands of oak trees, along and over and back and forth along the bed of Salado Creek. Which - rather as the joke used to be about the Los Angeles River - only seems to have water in it when it rains. However, there is plenty of evidence that when Salado Creek does have water in it - it has lots of water. There are a number of places where the creek-bed is eroded down to stone, and one long stretch where the intermittent watercourse has also eroded away a line of hills to produce a fairly steep, rocky face, pitted with caves.
There are houses on either side of the creek-way; many of the back yards either open to it through gates, or with a private view from a back yard overlooking the creek, but it is just barely possible along some stretches to even see houses at all. When the seasonal trees leaf out a little more, such houses will be even less visible from the paved pathway. That pathway was very popular on a Sunday, by the way - joggers, and people like us, walking their dogs, families on bicycles. I suppose that eventually it will be possible to cross all the way across San Antonio on a greenway path - from 1604 on the north, all the way to downtown and the best-known stretch of the Riverwalk, along the San Antonio River, through the south-side and out at Mission Espada at 410 and South Presa.
The one thing that I did notice, somewhat wistfully, as we walked along - was what a wonderful un-constructed playground all this would have been for kids. My brothers and sister and our friends would have been all over a pocket wilderness like this, so temptingly close to the backyards of the suburban houses so very much like the ones that we lived in, growing up. When there was water in the creek, there would be tadpoles and minnows to watch. The temptation to dam up an ankle-deep stretch of the creek to make it a little deeper would have been overwhelming - our very own swimming hole. Trees to climb and make tree-houses in the lower branches, thickets to hide in; to play hide and seek, to pretend to be Indians, or play an extended round of capture-the-flag, to build forts out of scrap wood, or to deepen some of the caves and make a den out of them . . . oh, that would have been the best kind of playground for us ... I don't know how children could be kept from that kind of romp, even though free-range play and the concept children being permitted to amuse themselves for hours on end unsupervised by adults seems to be a concept now well out of fashion.
Anyway, I hope that those kids who do live in the San Antonio homes along the creek-way do get some serious play-time in. And for those of us, sadly grown-up and years beyond tree-climbing and minnow-catching - we can still enjoy it the greenway trails, too.