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By Brent Leisure, Director of State Parks

We all have our favorite seasons of year. Despite my love for fall, it’s mighty hard to contest the energy, vitality and striking beauty that accompany the arrival of spring. Whether you get out to chase that gobbler you’ve been dreaming about all winter, chunk a chartreuse lizard in hopes of enticing a smallmouth or largemouth bass or spend a night under the stars in your favorite campsite, opportunities abound for those who love the outdoors. The days are longer, the colors are more vibrant, and habitats are quickly repopulating with songbirds, mammals, amphibians and more. Who hasn’t cast a longing gaze out the office window on a spring day?

This issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine explores some of the beautiful Texas birds you may encounter this season, along with information and inspiration about the opportunities that springtime in Texas brings. Arts in the Parks, for example, is a concept gaining tremendous momentum in your state parks today. In all fairness, creating artistic renderings inspired by nature is not entirely new to our generation. Ancient pictographs adorn hidden rock walls in many parklands out West and were undoubtedly inspired thousands of years ago by the magnificent landscapes and the abundant resources of our beloved land. My mind often wanders back to those ancient people when I’m in these most special places, and I ponder the common experiences and feelings we’ve shared despite the thousands of years that separate us.

Your state parks today continue to be places of inspiration as young and old are encouraged to use all their senses to embrace the sights and sounds of nature and then go express that beauty themselves in any number of creative ways. Nature provides the backdrop: jaw-dropping splendor like the graceful ballet of a hummingbird or the riotous splashes of color in our native springtime meadows. Our mind’s eye records these experiences, and the resulting art — painting, drawing, sculpting, photography, music, dance or words — provides us opportunities to share our unique interpretation.

How you experience the outdoors is up to you. Some folks like to stroll along gentle paths, dip their fishing lines in the water and sit back to watch the clouds roll by. Others crave more excitement in their nature experience, dropping down into high-walled canyons or chasing an elusive gobbler with bow and arrow. That’s one of the wonders of nature: there’s something for every taste and ability.

As for me, spring invites me to hit a rugged trail on my mountain bike, explore some sparkling river by kayak, chase the white bass when the water is right, and spend time with family and friends as we listen to the night chorus under a jeweled sky.

Spring provides a smorgasbord of options, whatever your niche in the outdoors, so make the time to enjoy it. Every year during the dog days of summer, we look back and regret that we didn’t take time to embrace the beauty and splendor that spring offered.

When you do manage to slip away and indulge your springtime yearning for the outdoors, bring young friends along. Help them discover a lifetime of joy as a steward of Texas’ rich natural and cultural heritage. Once they experience it, they’re hooked. They’ll go back time and again, and pass it down to others.

As Executive Director Carter Smith says: “Thanks for caring about our wild things and wild places. They need you now more than ever.”

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