My wife had another day of seminar to attend for her investment club,
so I found myself going out solo on a drive. I thought that this weekend is the third weekend of the month, and therefore set out for the Third Mondays Trade Days in McKinney, a monthly open air flea market. When I got there, though, it was empty, as this is the weekend of the fourth Monday.
I listened to a local AM radio station playing a playoff game from our local high school, the Allen High Eagles, in the elimination game of a best of 3 series with nearby Rockwall in the regionals. I have not followed Eagle baseball at all, but suddenly I was an instant fan. The Eagles took a one run lead on a home run in the fourth, but then in the fifth inning Rockwall pounded out a double and a home run,putting the game out of reach. I was suddenly devastated, by a loss by a team I don't follow,as I drove down remote Collin County farm roads, through fields of new wheat and fledgling corn. I had become a fan, and suffered the agony of defeat, all in an hour.
Last Sunday I went to the local batting cages down the road, and hit softballs tossed at me by the batting machine. I played Summer baseball until I was 15, but in recent years only played a few games of "company softball" 15 years or so ago.
I love, though, that sweet feeling when the bat cracks (or, with aluminum, "thunks")
because one has hit the sweet part of the ball with the sweet part of the bat.
I found that I still had "it", whatever "it" is, although I will, for the moment, by-pass the virility metaphors and related power verbs. I was once a very good baseball player, a right fielder who could at my best (after years of 'developing') knock a base hit almost at will (though I had to play right field because I could not, and still cannot, toss the ball in from center). Then again, there were those awful summers at baseball camp, where I learned about man's fundamental inhumanity to man. But that's another post.
I drove past fields of longhorn and bremer cattle, standing serenely with hundreds of cattle egrets. They say the cattle egrets flew across the ocean from Africa to South America, and then on up to North America, for the privilege of standing in American prairie with cattle. It's a heart-warming story, really. I drove past horse farms and through little towns with quiet, shady streets.
I stopped in Sanger, population 5,000, over in Denton County, just past the Lake Ray Roberts Bridge. This town has lots of cute turn of the 20th Century houses. I stopped at an old brick building near the charming traditional downtown for "Babe's Chicken Dinner House". Inside, everyone was friendly. I was wearing my beige with white floral patterns Hawaiian shirt, along with a dollar-purchase solid blue baseball cap. There must be something charming about an inexcusably overweight middle-age man gone campy Hawaiian in the countryside, because everyone acted really delighted to see me. The waitperson explained that with every meal, one got limitless portions of salad, corn casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, and huge, alien-spacecraft-size biscuits. One did not order one's entry from a menu. One merely chose the "meat"--fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, fried catfish, fried chicken fingers, or pot roast. I chose pot roast. The food was very good. I love corn casserole. A Wurlizter jukebox played fifties pop songs, and I remembered once more that the fifties for me are a great time for jazz and and western and show tunes and Buddy Holly, but not a great time for radio pop. A teen waitperson girl disagreed with me, though, as she passed by singing "Teen Angel" along with the music very gently.
While I ate, I read the local Sanger newspaper,which I bought outside for fifty cents from an "honor system" newstand, with a tin cup but no locks on the papers. The paper said that builders were about to build 800 to 1200 homes just outside of the city, and that talk of annexation was on. I realized that Sanger will grow, as so much of this charming Collin/Denton/Grayson/Cooke County rural beauty will change and has changed. I am not a "knee-jerk" opponent of change and growth, because I have seen towns stay pristine and wither. Indeed, I think that people who have never lived in rural America often seem to pontificate the most about what rural and small town folks should and should not do. Although I'd like to see more charming things than "sprawl", I've seen the last picture show close, too. I try to avoid judging people for the sin of wanting local jobs and newer homes. But Sanger will be a bit less sleepy when it is done, and I am not sure that is all a good thing.
After I finished my meal, I headed out to my car. By the side door of the historic brick building restaurant, I noticed that my waitress, a bespectacled, bookish looking woman, sat on the ground coaxing life out of a cigarette. I thought about a LiveJournal poll about who smokes/used to smoke/never smoked, but pocketed the idea for another day. I realized that I suffer from agebyopia, in that I could not tell you on a bet if that waitress was 18 or 28. It still jars me just a little, by the way, when women my age tell me about their grandchildren.
On my way back home, I stopped at Lake Ray Roberts' Culp Unit prairie preserve, and took a walk on an old gravel road that has been allowed to "go wild" as a form of nature trail. Most of the weed were ankle high. The Spring bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush flowers have given way to other flowers. I saw lots of late Spring yellow-blooming prickly pear, as well as Indian blanket--an enchanting carpet of blood orange petals tinged with sunshine yellow surrounding a crimson red center.
Stalks of Queen Anne's lace rose knee high everywhere. I saw lots of black swallowtail butterflies, as well as a few monarchs and buckeyes. A black vulture flew low, and I wondered if I looked so unlikely a hiker as to be bound for the islands of the dead, somewhere out in the middle of the nearby lake.
I stopped at the Sam Garrett Overlook, from which one can see the expanse which is Lake Ray Roberts. One couple of bikers and one couple of apparent-bankers, all somewhat elderly, shared the observation area with me. A sign said Sam Garrett was a landscape architect, and a good guy. I saw fields of yellow flowers in the basin near the dam as I drove by the lake.
I resisted the temptation to purchase bait and use my trusty trunk cane pole, because the wind was kicked up a bit, which rarely foretells great fishing. Instead, I picked up a peanut pattie and a diet coke, and began rolling down obscure farm roads. I loved seeing all the horse farms and longhorns. Longhorns are now grown for largely sentimental reasons in this part of the world. I wonder, sometimes, if anything other than military machinery is made for other than sentimental reasons.
My wife arrived home with tales of corporate sagas, but then departed to the gym. Maybe I'll wander the neighborhood and watch for killdeer and butterflies. We'll catch a movie tonight, and still have Sunday left to enjoy.