Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Fever

My office has always had a holiday on Good Friday, which is somewhat unusual but we have a strong Baptist background. It very often happens that Good Friday is the same week as my birthday, so it has become my tradition to go off on my own on Good Friday and have a play day. Today I did not feel like a shopping trip, so I opted instead for a drive in the country and visiting a couple of remote cemeteries on a volunteer photo mission. By 8:30 this morning I had already visited the chiropractor, acquired a vanilla latte, and was on my way to Dale.

At the Bunton Cemetery in Dale I snagged photos of the graves of a distant cousin's inlaws, the Hellums. It was crisp and cool and quiet. A great start to the day.

I decided that rather than drive the familiar route back to Red Rock and then to the Pettytown Cemetery, I would instead drive some tiny county roads I had never explored. On the way I passed a small cemetery and stopped to take a photo of the gate and the few graves. Outside of the gate I got my first encounter this year with Indian Paintbrushes.

As I drove on, I missed my turn and ended up at a dead end where two or three ranches sprawled out from the road. I turned the car around and then saw a panorama of open space. Nowadays I don't get to see this much unspoiled beauty very often.

My drive along the little county roads was most enjoyable (even the backtracking to the turn I had missed). This is the kind of area where people look up when you drive by, surprised to see any traffic and automatically throwing a friendly wave. When I arrived at the turnoff to Pettytown Cemetery, I found myself driving down a lonely gravel road and then getting the opportunity to open and close a cattle gate before reaching my destination. It might sound odd to some folks, but I love the now unusual country activity of opening and closing a gate. The cemetery was in a remote pasture, but well tended. After the hustle and bustle of civilization, the chance to walk around in the country, surrounded by quiet and visible to no one, was a treat.

This is the time of year I am glad to be a Texan with country roots. Can anything be more enjoyable than a drive on a narrow Texas country road with open pastures on either side, the first bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes dotting the bar-ditches and the odd wave of a stranger as you pass? Is there anything more peaceful than passing a farmhouse where two or three old hound dogs are snoozing on their sides in the sun or more amusing than seeing two goats making the acquaintance of an inquisitive puppy? Is there anything more beautiful than a pasture of red cattle, some grazing and some dozing?

Texas is a state of mind. Only us native born children of Texas really understand what it's all about.


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