The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

I’m a native San Antonian, an Army brat who didn’t live here permanently until my father’s last transfer to his home base at Fort Sam Houston back in the ’60s. I grew up in the Edison High School area, and my husband, Michael, also a native San Antonian, grew up in the Jefferson area but attended Holy Cross High School. When we started house-hunting in the mid-’90s, we were determined to buy our “forever” home inside Loop 410 and in the same general area of our childhood. Inspiration Hills fit the bill nicely. 

We’re in a little subdivision called High Sierra after the short, C-shaped street at the top of the second-highest hill in San Antonio. The folks around here maintain their properties fairly well and are friendly without imposing themselves on you. 

Back in the olden days, there was a Jewish community center and a swimming pool up here. Sometime in the ’60s or ‘70s, the community center moved, the swimming pool was filled in, and houses were built at the top of the hill. 

The proximity to the Medical Center is convenient and we can get to pretty much anywhere in town in 20-25 minutes (except during rush hour). We’re close to Wonderland of the Americas, the Bijou Theater, a Super Target and H-E-B Marketplace, and a plethora of restaurants like Mencius Gourmet Hunan Restaurant and, our favorite, Lisa’s Mexican Restaurant at Bandera Road and Woodlawn Avenue.

Egyptian geese walk along the shore of Woodlawn Lake on Friday.
Egyptian geese walk along the shore of Woodlawn Lake on Friday. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

My husband grew up within walking distance of Woodlawn Lake, so he’s gotten me hooked on the place. I love walking around it and seeing all the waterfowl, both the permanent residents (that colony of Egyptian geese is getting out of control!) and the tourists like egrets, herons, coots, mallards, and hawks. We’ve even had a resident swan and a black swan. And if you ever want to know whether spring has really arrived, watch those redbuds at Woodlawn Lake. Their flowers are never wrong.  Woodlawn Lake was a real sanity-saver last year during the worst of the pandemic.

The yards up here aren’t very big, and Michael didn’t want to be wasting time mowing a teeny lawn, so we xeriscaped the front yard with crushed granite and big rocks to sit on near the house and native plants up front. Something is almost always blooming.  Right now the hibiscus, esperanza, and Pride of Barbados is moving into hibernation mode, but the cherry salvia looks great. In the spring, depending on October rains, neighbors walking by enjoy the mini-field of bluebonnets and firewheels. One lady came regularly to take pictures, and many call out how pretty the yard is. 

We have some great urban wildlife up here, too. Skunks are especially noticeable in the spring; their unique perfume often blankets the neighborhood. I’ve seen opossums, owls, Cooper’s hawks, black vultures, and even a caracara. Mockingbirds and cardinals regularly serenade us in the spring, while blue jays screech at each other all year long. 

Being at the top of the hill also gives us a great sky view. I remember studying about the ecliptic in school and the earth tilting back and forth, but living here has really made me aware of just how much the ecliptic “moves.” Sometimes the sun sets almost right in front of our house. Other times of the year, it’s moved so far north that we have to look hard right to catch the sunset. During the summer, our sky view toward the South Side points toward galactic center. 

The light pollution at night is so much worse than when we moved in, so it’s hard to see much, but still fun to look. Our view of the Christmas conjunction last year was directly in line with our front door. It was magical. 

Air quality is also worse than when we moved in, but there are still days when you can look at the horizon and see a layer of tea-colored air sitting on the lowlands. The haze is especially noticeable when looking toward downtown, and the buildings are all fuzzy.

Looking south from our front yard, we can see Our Lady of the Lake University where we met. We can also watch the fireworks at the Fiesta Oyster Bake, while the fireworks at Woodlawn Lake are easily visible from the neighbor’s yard across the street. Best of all, though, is the New Year’s Eve fireworks show when it looks like the entire South Side is shooting off fireworks. 

From the living room, we can watch storms roll in from the Hill Country with lightning shows that rival even the best fireworks. And nothing beats having a hawk land on your balcony to start eating its sparrow lunch.

It’s this balance between the comfort of urban life and the restfulness of nature that makes Inspiration Hills such a wonderful place to live.