Sometimes Hope Comes When you Least Expect it


I always seem to discover new things about my family when I travel home. I’m also a firm believer in that cliched saying, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” I just didn’t realize how close it lands sometimes.

The first Sunday I was home this December, my grandfather and I settled into our respective chairs and split the newspaper. The headline I saw staring up at me above the fold intrigued me, and my heart started racing a little faster. As I read the article, I noticed my leg was shaking with energy I couldn’t expend. Little clucks and whirs were escaping my lips.

There on the front page of the San Angelo Standard Times was an article on how focusing on the Concho River might infuse new dollars into the San Angelo economy. My Texas life and work life rarely intersect, and when they do, I get a little giddy and lightheaded. In front of me was the opening I had been looking for on the Concho River…an opportunity to make a positive change in the hometown I left more than 10 years ago. Ever since I started working for American Rivers, my trips home have included visits to the river and dragging my family to various dam sites around the region.

The thing that excited me most about the article was that the town actually took a step back, examined its economic situation, and had recognized the river that runs through town could be used to promote tourism and economic development. As I was discussing this with my grandfather, I mentioned my concerns about the town and its track record, about the need to approach these restoration projects in as green and ecologically sensitive manner as possible. He turned to me, looking me dead in the eye, and said to just “tell him what to say” and “what the good things are” and that he would work to make sure it got done. He then started telling me about how he had held up the dredging of a local reservoir for five or six years by writing to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NOAA about an endangered Concho River mussel and his concerns about the amount of riprap proposed. I didn’t even know he knew what riprap was, much less that he cared about its use.

As I leaned back in the chair and finished the article, I couldn’t help but think that sometimes the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.