Yesterday I drove through much of Bastrop and Milam Counties on my way to visit the puppy farm. It's country drives like that that remind me of how much I love Texas as only a native Texan can. It is already hot and humid. God help us when August rolls around. But there is something about driving down a straight highway with rolling green fields on either side, fluffy white clouds in the brilliant blue skies above and the heat visibly rising off the highway. My gut suddenly relaxes and I feel an internal satisfaction that I'm home.
When I go back and visit Smiley in the summertime, I hit that feeling when I head south from Gonzales on that two-lane blacktop road that takes you to beautiful downtown Smiley. Mesquite trees and chicken houses mean home to me. Heat, thorns and stink. How totally weird is that?
I saw some truly Texas sights yesterday. Between San Gabriel and Cameron I saw a buzzard convention meeting over the carcass of a dead deer. I very nearly stopped and took a picture. Later on I wished I had. Now who but a Texan would find a gathering of buzzards over a pile of rotting carrion to be photogenic? There was something about them that reminded me of board meetings or maybe deacon meetings. A group of elder statesmen, dealing with the day's business.
When I reached my destination, I turned onto a narrow dirt road, bumped over a cattle guard, stopped to open a gate, drove through, stepped out of my car to close the gate and had to pick my way around massive piles of steaming, uh, cow leavings. And I loved it. It's been a very long time since I drove down to an honest-to-goodness farmhouse and the smell of the stuff was a not unpleasant flash from the past. As I approached the house, a big white cow was lying across the road. She gave me a put-upon look, but lumbered to her feet and ambled off just far enough for me to pass. I can't remember the last time I was that close to a cow. The lady of the house apologized to me for my having to deal with the gate. I laughed and told her it was no problem - that I came from a long line of farmers and felt right at home.
Yesterday was so radically different from my usual activities that it felt like a real vacation day. I love rural Texas. I sometimes forget that there are parts of Texas that aren't yet covered by concrete. I temporarily stepped back in time to a simpler period of my life when I regularly visited rural families who kept gardens in their back yard and cows in the field just across the fence from their front yards.
The only thing that would have made the day any better would have been if it was cotton harvest time. I can remember driving through Thorndale as a child and smelling the cotton gins. It may sound odd, but the smell always reminded me of hot, buttered popcorn.
The day was a total success in any case, because I brought home a little package of brown fur that is about two pounds of solid love. Little Coco is lying at my side, in Bebop's old place, sleeping the sleep of the innocent. More about her at another time. Let me just say that she has already lifted the spirits of the house and reminded us that the circle of life continues.
Blue skies, buzzards, country roads and puppies. Take joy in the simple things. They are still out there if you look.