Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Shannon and Txai in Wimberley
Photo by Christopher Casselli, 1996

Today I am haunted by a memory of the wide deck of a roughly hewn shack on a rise over the meadow that sloped down to a perennial creek. A younger woman than I holds the youngest one against her as the hammock rocks in a lazy breeze beneath a young acacia tree, while bees and the occasional hummingbird hover around the sweet acacia flowers. Soon, she thinks, the meadow will have to be mowed, at least the paths, so that they can wander down to the creek through the tall grasses without fear of snakes. The sunflowers had suddenly bolted up at least a foot toward the sun, and the verbena and skullcap peeked, pink and purple, among the sea of yellow. But the flowers were not so much of concern.

But neither did the hummingbirds or bees concern her, nor the sweet aroma of the acacia which seemed to stitch the fabric of the scene together, the child, the shade of the tree, the hammock, the deck, the roughly hewn house. How long had they been there? It was a Saturday, so possibly for many hours, as the sun carved its arc across the pale summer sky. She was thinking of rain.

Just today we drove our usual circuitous path through downtown, the youngest one and I (not the one from the hammock, he is long-limbed and sullen now; he may never be held and rocked again the way he was that summer day, at least not by me), and she said, Look at those beautiful clouds! And I remembered. I remembered the day the clouds had boiled up over the edge of the ten acres like a bubbling vat of porridge. It had been a day of dragging flat limestone rocks over the land to build a path down to the creek, a day of hauling earth and cutting cedar poles. The children’s arms were scratched and bleeding, but they were happy. We were proud of what we had accomplished. And later as we swung there above the deck (the youngest one and I), the breeze picked up, and I watched the massive cumulous clouds roil and gain height, each voluminous pitch distinctly its own, completely unique. I don’t recall now how long we had gone without rain. Each morning that I switched on the well pump I feared there would be no water--other counties had already gone dry. But we had been lucky, or at least thrifty, a woman alone with two young kids.

The clouds mounted and the wind rose, and the hummingbirds surfed the sudden gusts, and finally the first stars began to appear, before they were swallowed by the storm. It never rained. There was the great gathering, the tremendous hope, the disappointment afterwards, but life went on. And now? Now we make our way through the requirements of the day, we do what needs to be done, but somewhere inside we know that there is nothing more important that will ever happen to us than what happened on that lazy Saturday, holding the youngest one against my chest, swinging lazily in the hammock beneath the acacia, watching the clouds, waiting for rain.

And then this...

Dearest Shannon,

I have a few vivid memories of that place and how lovely it was. It represented another moment in time that invoked a sense of clarity for me that I needed to be out in the country, out of the city and immersed as much as possible in nature.

Green. I seem to be swimming in green punctuated with dabs of
vivid reds, blues, yellows and stray purples. It made me think of all
the people surrounded by concrete and the possible effects from lack
of color radiation.

Twice a day I go down to the lake shore and observe the creeping rise in water. The desolation of the lake bed being overwhelmed and transformed. Large patches of Bluebonnets slowly drowning. The carp are swarming and making a splashing racket in their newly created supply of grass and the turtles seem to be constantly on the move. I regularly check the river flow data and another large slug of water should arrive in the lake later today and tomorrow. Another two to three feet of rise and the boat ramp will finally be back in business.

Love, Buck