Monday, March 13, 2017

Traveling Back in Time

I’ve been thinking about taking a vacation for some time. I’m sort of planning the trip in my head. I want to visit all the Texas towns I grew up with. Every one and every memory is a little piece of me. I remember Rhome Texas 1976. I remember Palestine. My aunts and cousins lived there for years. They have a Dogwood Festival in April each year. It’s beautiful to walk the Dogwood Trails.

I want to go Grand Saline. I once licked that building in the town square that’s made totally of SALT. It was yukky! I want to go to Greenville. It’s 2 hours northeast of Dallas. I lived in that little town for about 5 yrs. It’s a sweet little place with lots of old-timey down-home Texas folks. I had a neighbor who brought me warm homemade apricot turnovers every week.

I want to go to Henderson Texas. I once knew a man there who I fell deeply in love with named Larry Dan. He broke my heart but I still recall how beautiful the woods were around his house.

I need to go crabbing at Galveston. We got our car stuck in the sand on that beach at the end of Seawall one summer. We sat there all day trying to dig the car out but the sand was 4 feet deep. I still remember sitting in the hot sand beside the rear tire, digging sand away from it with a teaspoon. Miserable day.

I might even go to Houston. I never liked it though. It holds too many haunting memories. My sister lived and died there. Hers was a horrible self-inflicted death that still troubles us all today … those of us who are left, that is. We survived. Are we the lucky ones? I can’t decide.

Only thing I know is that I have to go. All those little Texas towns are waiting…they’re whispering to me in my dreams and wake time.

My grandparents worked at the State Hospital in Terrell. I kind of grew up around the Terrell area and still remember the dust from rodeos we attended each year. Once, my family had a beautiful home right down the road from Terrell in Rockwall where we lived happily ever after till we didn’t.

Once when I was 22, I spent the summer in Sweet Water. We lived in one of those one-story motels built with carports and a swimming pool in the center of the courtyard. Every evening, the owner would come out, light up the grill and make some steaks, shrimp, chicken, hamburgers, or whatever she had. She made fresh homemade ice cream in one of those old-timey ice cream makers with a crank you have to turn to make the ice cream freeze. We were there for 3 glorious months and every day was like vacationing in Paradise.

I have to see all these ordinary but spectacular little towns, with their auctions, flea markets and produce stands. I love stopping on the highway and looking through the watermelons, tomatoes and strawberries. Then grabbing some brown paper bags and gathering up all my favorites to take back home.

I’ll end my Road Trip at my Grandmother’s farm in Kaufman. It’s way out in the heavy woods east of Dallas, with tall oak trees growing so thick you can’t see daylight. When we were kids, we used to walk the dirt road in front of her old white wood frame house. We’d laugh, talk, then stop along the way to pick muscadine grapes. They grow wild on both sides of the road. My grandmother always warned us to watch out for the snakes.

She would say, “You kids be careful when picking wild grapes and black berries. The snakes like those berries too.”

Sure enough, we’d always see at least one snake but we had learned years earlier to peacefully co-exist with them. That’s the way it is when you grow up in a wild place where the bramble bush, foxes and squirrels have their homes. You learn to respect Mother Nature and value every creature, large and small. God created each one with a purpose.

The woods are grown up so thick around the place where my grandmother’s house used to stand. The house fell to the ground and lay in a heap of rotting boards many years ago. Now there’s nothing there except two tall cottonwood trees that my grandmother planted one spring. And they are surrounded by so much weeds and brush as tall as the sky.

In the back behind where the house was, there’s still a big stock pond. There are no cows and horses anymore to wander down there at dusk and get a cool drink of water. There’s just weeds, trees, bramble bush and so many snakes, spiders and small critters so as to scare away most souls. But not me. I learned how to live in harmony with them when I was about ten years old.

I’m going to make my way carefully through the 9 foot tall weeds toward that pond and then sit down on its banks and sing to the fish and birds the way I did as a child. I need to make this journey one more time before I pass from the earth.