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July 7th, 2002

Welcome to Texas!

Even as the footage on television shows the poor folks down in the Texas hill country continue to contend with flood-waters, we here in north Texas have returned to seasonally hot weather. The respite we got from the penumbra of the cooling rain storms down south has withered away into heat and humidity. Our weather is relatively simple. Spring and Autumn are heavenly, temperate,
mildly rainy, and flower filled. Winter is an odd mixture of below freezing days and quite pleasant Spring-like days. Summer, though, is heat, pure and simple. We do not get the tawdry high humidity of the Deep South very often, but the Texas sun glares like a high school calculus teacher on amphetamines facing a hapless student who failed to turn in the make-or-break class homework project.
The only respites are spotty thunderstorms.

Texas, Rebecca and Divine RetributionCollapse )

Elusive creatures

As I drove through the countryside, the African-American preacher from the Greenville AM radio station abjured me to avoid the casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi, the horse tracks in Grand Prairie and Arkansas and taking up with others folks' inamoratas. As I was mercifully free of any plans to spend my day at any of these pastimes, I felt guilt lift from me as if it were a veil. I could then see my way clear to hit the hiking trail at the Trinity Trail.

Trinity Trail is near Lucas, Texas. I found this really cool panoramic view of the countryside around Lucas. It goes around a 360 degree circuit of the area, and lets one "zoom in" by clicking on the bottom. If one looks at the part of the panorama which show Lake Lavon in the distance, then one will get some idea of Trinity Trail.

I went intentionally in the heat of the day. We had spent the early morning at International House of Pancakes (the blueberry syrup was divine, thanks very much), and I have made a solemn pact with myself this summer not to be kept indoors by the heat, but instead to venture out with good sense and a firm will. When I arrived at the trail, about 20 minutes' easy drive from my home (we'll skip the detour at the Dollar General Store, and the complete kids' art kit, with plastic drawers, I got for 3 dollars there), only my odd white "looks like a police car" sedan and a well-used BMW were present. The horse riders, who dominate this trail, had the good sense to make dawn rides.

The sound of cicadas along the trail was sheer ambient music.
They made symphonic crescendos and descrescendos, with cricket sounds serving as natural french horns to their endless bassoon.
I reflected on how sulphur butterflies, which flitted everywhere like yellow refugees, must be tasty to birds. Monarch butterflies are well known as avoided by birds as too bitter, and thus fly a leisurely flight path, unafraid of anything. Sulphurs fly like P-39s trying to dive bomb the jimson weed, sheer evasive maneuver.

I passed the other hikers, a nice couple with two obvious hike-seasoned miniature poodles and a non-descript but not teeth-prominent larger dog. I asked if the poodles were attack poodles. The nice man said they only did so if the magic command was given. I immediately promised to say "please" and "thank you" assiduously.

When I got to the lake view one reaches after 40 minutes, I headed down a narrower path to the water. The tiny beach was dry, but recent horse hoof marks were evident everywhere. I watched a huge great blue heron lope his way away leisurely, just above water level.

I walked back to my car, passing hundreds of thistles that have gone to seed, all cottony like huge dandelions. I continued to see myriads of grasshoppers flying their short, greenwing flights, and that odd dragonfly relative with the slow, easy flight. I snapped photos, none of which will rival my eyes. When I got back to my car, I saw a yellow and orange sail just over a hillside, and a power boat moving swiftly into shore. My holiday is over, but I am happy.

I drove over a lake bridge, when "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" played on the radio. I saw an immature heron, in the middle of the lake, standing on a protruding log. George Harrison continued to play, and in his song I was somehow a part of everything I saw.
What an event-filled Fourth of July weekend. I'm lost in random memories of things now. Lying with spouse and friends on a horse blanket on the 4th on an open field before it was dark enough for fireworks, watching white clouds fixed within a blue sky. I looked away, and the clouds seemed to disappear, dissolved into blue. I read the wonderful August issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine which asphalteden sent to me. I used to read sci fi magazines quite often, but this was the first I'd read cover to cover in years. William Barton's novella, "The Engines of Desire", touched me in a way science fiction does not always manage to do anymore. It is almost a throwback to an earlier era of sci fi, but it has that dual immediacy of metaphor and wonder which makes the best sci fi both current and timeless. Our neighborhood has a little "community pool", not really a lap pool, more a pool to which one goes and soaks and dog paddles. I had not visited this year thus far, but to go this evening to spend a half an hour paddling around, watching swifts overhead dart here and there for bugs, and then to retire to one of those long deck chairs for a read at Rebecca, that is the definition of living. After marstokyo kindly suggested I pick up a copy of "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" to help me learn to draw, I found an early edition virtually free at half.com (by the way, nacowafer, I am deeply impressed that almost every book that sounds like it might be a good read is already in your personal library--it might be fun to run through our separate copies of the book simultaneously. I can use my "precognition" already to "see" that while I will get through the book faster, in fact, your sketches will be of far higher quality). Meanwhile, postcardx things of impressive quality and quantity keep rolling in, and I must begin rolling things back out, or risk being less an exchanger than a recipient. I will learn to draw quickly, though I do have a nice set of snaps I could send.

I strategized with scottm for the recording that I hope to do in a few weeks of electric football fields, while my old friend Gene and I discussed whether he and I might spend part of his vacation together (I will hear soon, Scott, so that we may schedule our stuff; btw, Saturday evening put me in an enormously good mood--so you guys are probably going to get declared controlled substances by the GWB people). This long weekend featured not one but three social events with friends, which is roughly two more than my usual tolerance, and yet I am really pleased we socialized with each set of folks.

Oh, but the missed opportunities! I got to see a good bit of one of my favorite film performances, Tom Courtenay's role in The Dresser, including the wonderful "train" scene, but did not have the energy to finish the whole film. Natalie Merchant was in town Wednesday with Chris Isaak, and we were just too tired to go. I slept until noon on Saturday, except for a few moments up to have raisin bran and read the paper. I loathe sleeping in on a weekend day--it's like taking the hourglass and stealing the sand.

But life happens all around me. As I changed bird feeders out, putting in an "easy for birds" feeder with "everybird loves 'em" seeds, I noticed that the feeder I had hanging with saffron seeds (which attract only "posh" birds), which seemed to never attract birds, actually was nearly empty of seed. The problem was not the feeder, but the watcher. Sometimes my endeavors fail (see, e.g., the terrarium I still haven't revived since the "marigold disaster" this Spring), but how often is it just a matter of inattention? Those darn doorways of perception. It's all well and good to talk about 'em when you're Aldous Huxley, stoned all the time and hanging out at the Vedanta Temple in Hollywood...but what about when you're middle aged and straight-edged in the Texas suburbs, and pretty much just like staring at white clouds?