Matt deGrood

It was a balmy 95 degrees on Monday, the humidity in full swing, and I went hiking. I hadn’t planned to go hiking, exactly. It was more an accident of circumstance than anything.

We were piecing together the Star’s latest edition and I went looking for a spot to snap some quick photos of the Brazos River, and ended up at the aptly named Brazos River Park, 18427 Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land, in full slacks, dress shoes and collared shirt.

Signs told me the trail (which I didn’t realize was as long as it is) was one-way foot traffic, and my head told me this was the perfect route to find the photos I needed for work.

What I was hoping would be a 15-minute pitstop before lunch, instead, turned into a walk of a few hours through the woods on the Tower Loop, peering through foliage for hopes of sighting a good overlook of the Brazos River. It took me much longer than I expected, but I eventually found what I was looking for. The photos actually appeared in the last edition of the Star, alongside the story about creative flooding solutions.

By the time I returned to the car, sweat was pouring through my shirt and I was ready to be back in air conditioning.

The timing and weather might not have been ideal for such an undertaking, but even considering the circumstances, one couldn’t help but notice the immense natural beauty of Fort Bend County as I walked up and down the hills and thanked good fortune to be walking under the shade of towering trees.

Depending on when you read this, it’s finally starting to feel like fall in our little slice of Texas. The weather and humidity no longer feel quite oppressive, and the slight breeze makes for a welcome change from the dog days of Gulf Coast summers. This is my favorite time of the year, with football and soccer seasons in full swing again.

Several years ago, my wife and I and our border collie, Molly Ivins, took advantage of similar weather to explore Brazos Bend State Park for the first time. Despite how astoundingly beautiful the place is, we shockingly had much of the park to ourselves that weekend. Just a few other scattered families and acres of pristine nature to explore. We still remember what a perfect day it was.

As I sat down to write my weekly opinion column, I tried very hard to think of a high-stakes issue to remind readers about. Maybe something related to schools or politics or business.

But the more I thought about it, the more I knew now was the perfect time to make a public plea to each and every one of you. Please, please, please remember to spend more time appreciating all the natural beauty Fort Bend County has to offer.

In our busy lives, it’s easy to take for granted everything that surrounds us. Work, errands and hobbies quickly take over much of our waking hours and what free time remains often becomes dedicated to rest and relaxation.

Yet, I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to walk along one of the region’s many hiking trails and watch the birds flying overhead. It brings fresh perspective, and a renewed sense of purpose to all of life’s other engagements.

And the opportunities in Fort Bend County are nearly limitless. We’ve written about them extensively over the months and years. Perhaps you’d like to join bird watching enthusiasts at Cullinan Park to learn more about the region’s birds. Or maybe a run through Sugar Land’s Oyster Creek Park is more your speed. There’s even perfect places to go out at night and look up at the stars, contemplating the mysteries of existence. Whatever your particular needs or wants, Fort Bend County no doubt has the perfect place for you.

So, gather the kids and dogs and get outside this fall. Enjoy Fort Bend County and everything it has to offer. I’m not sure it will fix all of our problems. Those are probably topics for future columns. But I think we’ll all be the better for it.

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