Among growing cases of COVID-19, protecting our physical health by maintaining social distance, hand-washing and being mindful about what we touch is essential. But managing mental health can be just as important.
Staying in touch with nature can help us feel connected to something other than ourselves in a time when we’re so isolated. There comes a time when you just have to get outside, if for no other reason than to keep your sanity. Boerne's Cibolo Nature Center is a great place for that.
Cibolo is the Native American word for buffalo, which used to herd in this area. Cibolo’s wide, well-maintained trails allow you to traipse through four distinct ecosystems, keeping personal distance from others the whole way. In its hundred acres, several miles worth of trails cross dense woodlands, a tall grass prairie, elevated walkways over a marsh and a lush, shady creekside.
And the Cibolo Nature Center has something that a lot of parks don't have: running water. The Cibolo Creek divides the nature center from its sister organization, the 62-acre Herff Family Farm. The two entities straddling the Cibolo ensure that this natural setting doesn't get over-developed anytime soon.
I ran into John Stokes, his wife Grayson and their dog Samson.
"It's a real treasure, hidden in what is almost downtown Boerne," he said.
I pointed out to Stokes that where we were doesn't sound like downtown Boerne.
"Heck, no. You don't hear the cars here. All you hear are the birds and the wind through the trees," he said.
Grayson chimed in, "The trees are amazing. To me it doesn't look like you would expect in Texas. It's just beautiful."
We stood under 120-foot tall Bald Cypress trees, just now putting on their bright green spring foliage.
"When it's in summer, it's a canopy, and it just shades the entire area," Grayson said.
She said they walk Samson here often.
"It's just an amazing way to get exercise and get outside," she said.
They walked off, taking the creekside trail, stopping at time to let Grayson get drinks.
I took an hour and a half walk through all four ecosystems, then relaxed in one of the hammocks in the shade at the nature center itself.
IF YOU GO
What: Cibolo Nature Center
Where: 140 City Park Road, just off HWY 46 east
When: open 8 a.m. to dusk 365 days
Cost: free, though memberships are encouraged