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Down in the Hill Country

It was inevitable. We decided to move in March and found our dream home on March 18. Since then it’s been an adrenalin-fueled four months of selling the condo, financing the new house so we didn’t have to wait to sell the condo, booking movers, packing, finishing the school year, and Gary doing a one-man show on Clarence Darrow. Then, after June 2, it was unpack, find services, find our way around and try to get settled.

Lest you think there are second thoughts, there are not. No regrets. I love our new home and I know we will find out communities here.

But Sunday morning I woke up so depressed I could hardly get out of bed. That’s why I wrote the rodeo piece, to focus my mind on something good and positive.

Being the self-analytical person I am, I think I’ve figured out the reasons for the funk. I lay awake Sunday night, and here are my conclusions:

  • Before we moved, my problems were time over energy. There was never enough time regardless of my energy levels, which were pretty good. Now the equation is reversed: there is plenty of time–the days are long, there’s no school and few deadlines. But I’m exhausted. I just don’t have enough energy and stamina.
  • Heat. One of the reasons I’m flagging is that it’s Texas and it’s hot. It’s less humid up here and if there’s a breeze it’s not too bad. But I try to do errands early in the day, and even walking the dog before sunset can be uncomfortable.
  • No matter how hard I work I can’t seem to finish unpacking. It goes in fits and starts, and some days feel like we’ve made enormous progress, then there’ll be days when it seems like nothing happens. We’re spending time shopping for things we need–a bed and desk for the granddaughter’s room, patio furniture, a composting system, items that need to be assembled. That stresses the three of us, trying to figure out which allen wrench and which bolt goes where.
  • Speaking of the three of us: that’s it. There are three people, a dog and two guinea pigs in this house, and for the most part that’s our daily contact. We’re getting on each others’ nerves. I would love to get Chloe to a day camp, a class, or something. Even a neighbor’s house. But she balks at any suggestions. I may have to just register for a class or a camp and insist that she go.
  • And I’ m lonely. Other than husband, granddaughter and dog, the only other people I talk to are my acupuncturist and random checkout clerks and neighbors. I miss my communities: my dog-walking friends, Travis Heights Elementary friends, condo neighbors, church friends, poetry friends and singing friends. I did appreciate them but I don’t think I realized how much I’d miss them.

I’m not complaining. I know it takes time to find new communities. And I will be proactive. I am not bashful and I already have some contacts here to get me started.

Next: getting out of the valley.

The view from the restaurant on the Guadalupe River where we ate last night. If you have to be in a valley, this is not bad.

 

Walking the Labyrinth

While at a women’s retreat in the Texas Hill Country last month, I had an opportunity to walk an outdoor labyrinth, a huge one based on Chartres cathedral‘s. I shared the first draft of the poem at the retreat, and after it was critiqued and revised, I laid it out on an image of the one at Chartres. Here is the shaped poem followed by the text, as well as a satellite image of the actual one I walked. (You’ll have to tilt your head–or your device.)

Labyrinth poem

 

Labyrinth, U bar U Ranch

I’m told there’s no wrong or right way,
but trying to find the way
by starlight and a sliver of moon
makes me stumble over rocks.

Confused and dizzy,
unable to stay on the path,
I give up, escape across the lines—
this has to be wrong!

In the morning, I see the pattern
among the natural rock outcrops.
I hesitate at times but stay on the path—
three-quarters of a mile each way.

It seems never to end,
but there is no end or destination,
only the journey in,
the journey out.

Pausing at the center,
I receive no profound revelation,
only a small letting go,
a lightening of the rocks I carried with me.

It's a faint circle to the left of the road.

It’s a faint circle to the left of the road.

 

Pass Paradise to get to Utopia

I’ve never missed frozen toes after nearly half a lifetime of winters, but living in Central Texas I do miss spectacular autumn color.

Tree color, sky

There is one area where Texas does get fall: Lost Maples State Natural Area. Gary attended a weekend retreat near Kerrville, and on Sunday I picked him up to drive farther into the Hill Country, where we spent a couple of days getting an autumn fix.

Welcoming entry to our B&B

Welcoming entry to our B&B

We stayed at the Bend o’ the River Bed and Breakfast just outside Utopia–and we did pass Paradise on the way. Old time Texans were optimistic in their naming practices. The Duvalls, Peggy and Ron, were gracious and personable hosts, and we enjoyed their beautiful home (which Ron, a woodworker and carpenter, built as a B&B) and the peaceful setting on the Sabinal River. (Sadly, the river was a dry ditch.)

Sad, dry Sabinal

Sad, dry Sabinal

We burned off some of Ron and Peggy’s hearty breakfast (creamy, herb-seasoned scrambled eggs, bacon, buttermilk biscuits) with a four-hour hike up and out of the canyon at Lost Maples for eyefuls of gorgeous color.

The Maple Trail at Lost Maples

The Maple Trail at Lost Maples

Gary and the pond

Gary and the Maple Trail pond

It was warmer than we expected (mid-80s F) and I came close to heat exhaustion. Gary said later he thought I was going to turn back on the ascent. Just as I reached the bottom of the descent (rocky, loose scree, which I hate) with the last few drops of water, face red and head throbbing, a couple of angels (I was hallucinating–it was just a nice young couple) filled my water bottle, after which we reached a beautiful pond and cooled our feet.

Oasis for hot feet after a hard hike

Oasis for hot feet after a hard hike

After an excellent Mexican lunch in Leakey,

I keep reading this as "Mama Chloe's." If you're every in Leakey, Texas, try it.

If you’re ever in Leakey, try it, but skip the chips.

we made it to Garner State Park an hour before sunset, giving us time for a walk along the Frio River. It rained lightly, making lovely patterns on the water, and then the setting sun gave us a show.

Turkey buzzards roosting as sunset approaches

Turkey buzzards roosting as sunset approaches

 

Rain on the Frio River

Rain on the Frio River

A still image from a video of the rain

A still image from a video of the rain

 

Garner river view silhouettes

Frio River views

Frio River views

Rain, then a flaming end to the day

Rain, then a flaming end to the day

That evening, as we had a glass of wine and chatted with the other b&b guests on the patio, we were chased indoors by  heavy rains, so the Sabinal had a  few puddles next morning as we left for home. (Like Camelot, apparently it only rains at night in Utopia.)

We took a detour through the pleasant Hill Country town of Boerne,

A nice walk around Boerne

A nice walk around Boerne

LMSNA color 3

Lost Maples color

browsing in shops. After burgers at Lost Maples Cafe in Utopia, Mexican in Leakey, a BLT (and ice cream!) in Boerne, and those fabulous B&B breakfasts, we’re back to wiser eating before Thanksgiving.

Hobbit-y tree in Garner

Hobbit-y tree in Garner

Gorgeous Texas sky

Gorgeous Texas sky

Color in Garner State Park

Color in Garner State Park

 

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