I have felt like such a stranger to this city upon returning this November after six months away. It’s been a whirlwind, driving past Austin classics now closed down; receiving news of historical businesses being leveled for condos; noticing so many new buildings that weren’t here a scant six months ago. And where did all these cars come from?
The changes seemed to be wiping out all of what I loved here in Austin. What was happening to my town, and do I still belong here?
But taking Edible Austin's Urban Farm Bicycle Tour on Saturday, December 1st, reminded me why this is my home. We pedaled down tiny roads, through parts of Austin I had never seen before, and they were dotted with unfamiliar treasures, old and new. The HOPE Foundation and its holiday vendor sale had everything from Tanzanian crafts to elephant-dung paper goods. We made an unofficial stop with the “Community Christmas Tree”, offering a “give an ornament/ take an ornament” program. We had the opportunity to chat with neighborhood and global conscious coffee companies and talk to city farmers about the thrill of harvesting their own crops. It was especially joyful to watch parents showing their children the value of growing food, having pride in staying local, and keeping this town “weird.” Everywhere we looked that day, we saw the involuntary smile that sneaks across the face of Austinites on beautiful days like this, a shared happiness of knowing we are all privy to a small sliver of paradise.
This is the soul of Austin, unchanged and continually flowering. It took slowing down and observing the town at pedal speed to see that, which is why we so highly recommend the Urban Farm Bicycle Tour. Although the surface is shifting, the energy and spirit of this beautiful town remain the same.
In her time away from Austin, guest blogger Margaret Shugart leads bicycle tours in the South of France.
Copyright © 2013 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.