So I popped a cane fishing pole into the car and headed to my favorite ponds. I stopped in the tiny town of Princeton, where the Princeton Cafe serves hamburgers just like an old-fashioned cafe, with sitting down and waitresses and all that. I had waited until Princeton to get a meal, because an earlier stop at Dairy Queen was thwarted when the entire place was filled with senior citizens, making for a wait. I wondered at the hypnotic power of the DQ 399 cent special. I sat and read my sci fi while the folks behind the counter prepared my order of a burger and a chocolate milk shake. The chocolate shake came out with an elegant presentation--nice old fashioned glass malt cup, whipped cream decoratively placed, and a cherry. I was disappointed, though, that it was an "ice cream mixed in a blender" rather than a true "milk and ice cream and chocolate sauce made in a shake machine" shake. At least it wasn't a "prefabricated 'shake-like substance' squeezed out of an ice milk machine" shake.
I stopped by a little wooden bait store in Farmersville to renew my fishing license and buy worms and little bream hooks. The man behind the counter provided me with a long story about how his recent incarceration had resulted in the temporary loss of his fishing rod. He then explained how he had no time for fishing anymore even after the rod was recovered. I believe if I were working 40 to 50 hours a week in a bait shop after getting out of jail, I'd make time for fishing. But we're all trapped in our own constructs.
The Park Hill Prairie was quite windy and cold. For some reason, although it is just an hour and a bit away from my home, its microclimate is usually quite different than the one where I live.
The ponds were a bit more dry than usual, so that the parts near the shore were quite shallow. The ponds are clear in the way that only springwater ponds are usually clear, so I could see tons of marine plants and algae. Unfortunately, I could not see any fish, and my worm went entirely unmolested. I should have brought a proper rod and reel so that I could fish more deeply, where the fish were, but I hadn't. So after half an hour, I liberated the remaining worms, and began to hike the park trails.
I saw a great blue heron, three ducks, a huge hawk, numerous cardinals, and some truly gorgeous meadowlarks. The meadowlarks, living, as they do, in meadows rather than tract homes (else they would be called suburblarks), were really cool. I had thought meadowlarks were migratory birds, but here they are in Texas in December. I loved seeing the cedar trees and the dead, wild prairie weeds and the starkness of the gently rolling hills. A last few remnant insects somehow still flitted in the cold. This type of stark December hike is a sort of holiday thing for me--the passing of the old, the last hints of renewal in the few things that remain green.
My wife returned from a day spent running a holiday open house to raise scholarship dollars just as the Georgia shellacking of Arkansas justified turning off the televisino and going to dinner.
We went to the Ranch House steak house in McKinney, where they make this curious salad involving sweet balsamic vinegar and walnuts. We like this place because the steaks are good and we never have to wait to be seated. The waitress explained how she had not yet switched her Mississippi license to a Texas license, but she is waiting because her children have to go home for the holidays. She explained she teaches in Dallas (some 30 miles away) by day, so it is hard to get to the motor vehicles department. In my mind, I was supplying this entire "back story" for her based on these few words. She became a recent divorcee, moving to the city to find new opportunities. I suspect my guess was a good one. The Dallas area is one of those cities to which people flock from less economically advantaged places, because our economy, even when a bit down like now, can seem vibrant if one is from Mississippi or Oklahoma or Arkansas. What an interesting sensation it is to pull up roots and start anew in a new city.
So much possibility, and yet so much nervousness.
I began making Christmas cards last night, which is fun, but I must get a few more supplies. Today will give me plenty of time to get things done, but maybe I'll go see a movie, too.