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May 26th, 2007

rockport

Despite a huge crowd of holiday-goers, we made our dawn flight to Corpus Christi in good order. When we landed, we drove over to the Corpus Christi Botanical Garden. It started to rain as we arrived, and after a moment in the gift shop, we walked the garden, each holding a Nautica umbrella. The flowers were stunning, particularly in the orchid house. There is a sublime joy in having a rainy botanical garden to oneselves on a warm May day.

We drove to the Big Fisheman restaurant, where in a huge building in the middle of geographic nowhere they serve fresh fish to the masses. As ardent members of the masses, we loved the various grilled and baked specials we consumed. We chatted with our waitress a bit, who recounted how she had moved to rural south Texas from Denver after her daughter was born and the father decamped for other climes. I thought to myself that
the father must be feckless indeed to leave this well-spoken, attractive vision and his own flesh and blood behind, but I did not share the thought with her, as it might have seemed undue flattery. But perhaps it is worth noting here, as it is a faint reminder that people think all sorts of lovely thoughts about other people which remain unvoiced for goodish reasons. So every day, who knows? One may be the subject of warm thoughts unlooked-for and unrealized.

Rockport is a coastal town of a few thousand. They do coastal Texas right. As the rain had not abated, we toured the little Center for the Arts. It was completely charming. Local artists had an exhibition of works they created on a joint trip to Guatemala. All watercolors, little sentimentality, little pretension, a wonderful, narrative sense--less "an art show" that a sense of place and purpose. The salt of life itself.

We toured the Fulton Mansion, a state park in which the best tour guide I ever heard, a 60ish parks guy in uniform, told us about this 1870 mansion built by a clever man who put in modern ventilation and even proper modern restroom facilities in a very rural area. I liked the part about how the family suddenly realized that the wife had inherited 28,000 acres of Texas land, and moved home, only to realize there was no market for it, but then to become rich anyway when the disruption following the Civil War caused the acreage to bear thousands upon thousands of untended longhorns, which were far more valuable than the land. I loved the Wardian case the family had. What an exciting thing to see, this house of wonders we now would take for granted.

We had Vietnamese food for dinner at the restaurant owned by Dat Nguyen, history's first Vietnamese-American football star,and a local hero. My pho was pretty good, but I prefer vermicelli noodles to the form of rice noodles used in this particular formulation. Then we walked out on the Fulton pier, where locals caught (undesired) catfish and talked to each other like old friends. We made an early night of it, and hope for good weather tomorrow.

We are happily in a place of herons and gentle living. I love it here.