The groundhog saw his shadow and we have 6 more weeks of Texas...
So we’ve had a small change of plans (a delay of plans, really) and extended our time here in Texas for a few more weeks. A combination of circumstances led us here- my Mom broke her foot and could use a hand, a lot of next assignments were coming up in dream locations that are still a little too cold for our camper (frozen, cracked water lines and tanks = zero fun, no matter how much I want to be in Whitefish, MT), and an extension offer from the hospital just all seemed to fall into place and we are not inclined to argue with the universe when she pulls things together for us like this!
We are just over three months into this journey (nine if you consider our “start” when we sold our house and moved into the camper last July…which feels more like the real beginning even if it was another six months before we actually left Maine) and if there is one thing that I’ve realized is absolutely key to staying remotely sane, it’s learning to be flexible. Every day includes the unexpected and rolling with it is pretty much non-negotiable. I certainly have my moments of frustration (oh, do I ever), but I’m learning that most of the time, that frustration is simply a waste of energy, energy that could be better spent creating a solution or recognizing the benefits of whatever the unplanned turn of events might be.
So we will be here through the end of April now. That leaves me a little more time with my Mom and my brother. A little more time to continue working my way into better running shape (and climbing shape, and fly-fishing shape, and all-around outdoor-fun shape). A little more time to soak in the Texas spring and the bounty of wildflowers that have so suddenly arrived to call in the season. To investigate the pockets of wild space that the Hill Country has to offer and reconnect with some old friends I haven’t seen in more than a decade. A little more time to work on our backpacking-with-Tessie dilemma and dream over an open atlas. Time to taste the local beers and eat fresh guacamole at the picnic table under string lights and enjoy the breeze as the sun sets in this big ol’ sky.
So often over the course of our lives, we wish for just a little more time. Time to pause, time to linger, time to slow down just a bit. We weren’t expecting extra time here in Texas, but this is where we’ve been granted it, so we’ll take it with gratitude and say thank you and make the most of its gifts. We’ll bask in this sunshine and feel the spring sun on our faces and take a deep breath, then another, and then another after that. Because we can.
Because we have just a little more time.
We woke early and poured our steaming coffee into travel mugs to go. We loaded up food and the little bit of gear that doesn’t live in the truck and hit the blue backroads, eager to leave the highway and the press of people behind us.
We drove in the morning light, winding through the scrubby ranch land and feeling muscles we hadn’t realized were bunched tight begin to loosen and relax. We rode along in companionable silence, taking in the passing mesquite and herds of cattle chewing the rough grass. The land was rolling and golden and dotted with livestock and cactus under a wide bluebird sky.
We arrived and frowned at the crowded parking lot, hoping our quest for quiet wasn’t in vain and determined to make the most of what silence we could find. Veering away from the summit trail, we ambled with our slow-moving mutt until she’d clearly had enough and laughingly loaded her into our newest carrying contraption for a 35-pound dog. We relished the noticeable absence of road noise and smiled warmly at the few people we saw on the trail…it’s hard to stay mad at like-minded souls.
The going was easy but slow with our furry load. We didn’t mind. As we walked, we began to talk. Of nothing, of everything. Of this life we’ve chosen for ourselves and its ups and downs. Of our plans and our uncertainties. Of the work we do and the work we crave and the work we love. Of the work of love. Of fear and courage and honesty. Of space and wildness and how to cradle the feral in ourselves.
When we were through with the walking, we made our way to an open place to rest for the night. Justin chopped wood for our fire and I gathered words and light and the peace of silence again washed over us. As the night rose dark, we were staggered by the stars in their multitudes, jostling for place in the desert sky. The pond frogs and cicadas bellowed, drowning out all other sound, and we listened to their stories as we watched Orion and his constellation companions move across the night.
In the morning we woke to daybreak peering through the truck cap’s windows, nudging us out of our sleeping bag cocoons and into the shining, dew covered day. We snuggled deeper and smiled at one another, caffeinated with the simple joy of a night spent outside. Eventually we climbed out and our smiles spread to the sprawling live oak tree we’d camped beneath, the golden rim of the cactus patches, the cardinals fighting for attention in the straw-like grass. We waited for water to boil and then coffee to brew and there was pleasure in the waiting.
We refilled our travel mugs to go and wandered back the way we’d come, unloading what was left of the food and the gear that doesn’t live in the truck. We waved to our neighbors and let the distant roar of the highway move itself to the background as we resumed the duties of home.
It wasn’t an epic adventure. There were no summits bagged, no miraculous vistas, no trials of man and nature. It was a simple outing- just a bit of walking and a bit of fire and a bit of quiet. But it was enough to unkink our necks and our shoulders and our weary souls and fill us with the everyday miracles of pond frogs and cicadas and the stars in their multitudes. It was enough to allow our laugh to come easier, our patience to last longer, our kindness to extend farther.
It wasn’t an epic adventure, but it was enough.