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Michael Barnes

Season for Caring, Southern Walnut Creek Trail, Two Thanksgivings

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lhs_SFC14_Bernard_07CHARITY: Refugee cut off from his culture and from benefits. Taken from my Season for Caring story in the Statesman: “In 1972, when Tutsis slaughtered Hutus in Burundi, farmer Rutankabandi Bernard was separated from his wife and child. “We went in different directions,” Bernard, a Hutu, says softly through an interpreter. “I never saw them again.” His enormous eyes stare into the deep distance. His face, usually lighted up with a big, kind smile, drops a bit. The family had grown beans and cassava in Rumonge, Burundi, near Lake Tanganyika. Bernard, who speaks Kirundi and Swahili but not English, headed first toward the Democratic Republic of Congo, then to Tanzania. He survived in refugee camps for more than 30 years. Seven years ago, he came to America.” http://bit.ly/1rI6F3f

SPORTS: A welcome new trail traces two Austin creeks. The Southern Walnut Creek Trail follows more than seven miles of wooded prairie through East Austin. The 10-foot-wide concrete path winds two lanes over mostly smooth terrain clustered with oaks, pecans and elms. Crows, warblers and chickadees provide the soundtrack. At times, the trail feels as remote as when Tonkawas tracked through these lowlands and the wide, lush Boggy and Walnut creek beds. Then an industrial element, like the Freescale plant, will peek over the tree line, reminders of the city around us. The dogs and I did a seven-mile loop from Govalle Park to past MLK and back, in other words, the southwestern half of the completed trail, which includes some elevated boardwalks. Mostly, bikers seem attracted to it. We were among the only mammals on foot this Sunday morning. Someday, I hear, almost all our urban trails could be connected.

TRAVEL: Why two Thanksgivings? The more thanks to give. Last week, we feasted in Fort Worth, Kip’s hometown, and Houston, mine. Our families are large and lively. Our four parents are living, but fading with each passing month. Our eight siblings and their spouses are thriving, while our 22 nieces and nephews are nearly all grown up. No fourth generation yet, but the weddings come fast and furious. We also met up with some hometown friends, which included a satisfying lunch at Houston’s Pondacheri casual Indian eatery. While the Texas 71-Interstate 10 route is best for reaching my family in West Houston, we’ve settled on a old-new path north through Lampasas, Hamilton, Hico, Glen Rose and Cleburne, then fast up the Chisholm Trail Parkway toll road. Adds 30 minutes to the trip, but saves a week of your life in Interstate 35 stress.