At the Onion River Campground in Vermont, I walked Zelda through fields of high, dry weeds with scattered faded flowers, surrounded by deep green grass and trees with leaves that were just starting to hint at autumn, and felt like we were in the essence of late summer. I think it’s why I remember that place with so much pleasure.
At Palmetto State Park in Texas, we are in the essence of spring. It is pure spring, all around us. Trees with soft green leaves unfurling, growing so fast that it feels like if you look away for an instant they will have changed when you look back. Wildflowers — yellow and white and purple and pink — some tiny, hiding in the grass, others standing tall and proud. A robin sitting on the branch outside my window as I write. White-tailed deer leaping through the trees at sunrise. Sweet olive trees covered in white flowers, their fragrance drifting on the breeze. One of the sweet olive trees — the biggest one I have ever seen — hummed as I approached it, mysterious until I realized it was the hum of a thousand happy bees. (I then cautiously moved away because, okay, humming tree, fascinating and cool; hundreds upon hundreds of bees, totally scary.)
My day here yesterday was… I want to say spectacular, but it was spectacular in a really quiet way. Zelda and I walked the San Marcos River Trail a little after sunrise. It was beautiful and lovely. We saw the site of the old mud boils, quiet now, but still noted with a sign. (Otherwise I wouldn’t have known what I was looking at). The trail was smooth, well-maintained, shockingly litter-free, and starts about twenty steps away from our campsite. It was a perfect morning walk, chilly enough to need a jacket, overcast, but not raining, a good length, interesting things to look at.
I did some work, including updating my work blog, texted with some friends, did some knitting, made myself a delicious lunch — scrambled eggs with chorizo, brown rice, goat Gouda, avocado, mushroom, and green onion (as posted on Instagram), and ate it sitting outside looking at the view. The sky was clearing, and the air was warming.
Then Z and I went for another walk, in a different direction. We crossed the river at a low point, which for her meant wading and for me meant hopping along the stones at the edges of the paved walkway, the rest of which had water flowing across it. I felt slightly ridiculous and yet also had that little kid thrill of knowing that if I fell, I would splash.
Back at the camper, I wrote. Good words. On Grace! First time in a long while that I didn’t feel like I was trying to fix something broken, but just letting the characters be who they were. We went for another walk. I sat outside on my new camp chair ($6 at Walmart and so much more comfortable than the $50 backpacking chair that I started out with) in the sunshine, warm enough to not need my jacket, and tried to write some more. Then Z wanted to be on my lap, so instead I snuggled her and felt so grateful to be in that moment, in that chair, with my dog licking my face. At sunset, we went for another walk. We ate dinner. I wrote some more.
Then I heard a rustling and caught a mouse in my trash can. Yes! A mouse. Serenity has mice. I can’t even…* I realized Tuesday that I had a mouse problem and it really ruined that day for me. Yesterday I let it go–nothing to do about it until I get on the road again–until one of them fell into the trash can. I carried it outside and released it, telling it to watch out for owls. Unfortunately, it was either not the only mouse or it came right back inside, because there was one after my granola this morning. Gah. So today I will be buying traps and repellent while I’m on my way to my next park.
But I didn’t let the mice stress me out yesterday. Yesterday, I enjoyed a perfect spring day. And not just a perfect spring day. My day, the day that I wanted.
A year ago, I was just starting to think about this adventure. I hadn’t decided to do it yet. I could still look around my house and think, wait, this is the home that I worked so hard for, the place where I wanted to live forever, my fantasy house. The window seat with its cushion made from material my mom and I found at a garage sale, the French doors, the bougainvillea, the neighborhood with its ponds and birds, the kitchen that is exactly right… was I really going to let it all go?
Yesterday was the day for which I let it go.
*”I can’t even…” feels like a complete statement to me, but it sure looks odd when written down. So, you know, envision it with the head shake and wince of pain and hands spread wide that it needs in order to make sense.
Edited to add: OMG, the showers–so much water pressure, so hot! Not new and fancy, your basic rundown campground shower, but the best shower I’ve had in months.
Marian Elavsky said:
I’m really thinking that at a certain point you need to take all these blogs and put them in a book. Really!
Aw, thank you! I’m not sure who would want to read it, but it’s a nice idea!
Scot Lee said:
freakin awesome Wen, so happy you had one of those irreconcilably priceless ‘moments’…
“Yesterday was the day for which I let it go.”
🙂 Brazos Bend is nice, too! I wish I could stay here longer, though, because it’s huge. So many trails, tough to know where I should be walking!
Sounds like such a nice day (except the mice, of course).
I think the best showers are the ones that nobody has replaced the shower head in the last 25 years. All the new water efficient ones just aren’t the same.
That was exactly it — a shower from before water conservation. It was like having a heated back massage. Really nice! Hey, I think next week I’m going to try to visit Oklahoma before I head back to Florida for April. Is there a spot in the south that you’d recommend? Or a spot in Arkansas?
Kyla Bendt said:
Beaver’s Bend State Park is in the SE corner of Oklahoma and one of my favorites.
A little further north of there is Talimena SP which is very small- just a few RV and camping spots, but it’s the start of the Talimena Scenic drive which goes to Mena Arkansas. That is one of the most gorgeous roads I’ve ever driven.
Queen Wilhelmina SP is in Arkansas on the Talimena drive. I’ve never stayed there, but want to. I drove through it once, but at the time was focused on looking at the lodge there and don’t remember anything about the RV area.
And as far as strange attractions, if you drive through Hugo, OK there is a cemetery there with a section for circus performers called Showmen’s rest. Lots of cool grave stones. (Clearly the sort of attraction that you only go to see if you happen to be in the area, but it might be an interesting place to walk the dogs.) http://www.travelok.com/listings/view.profile/id.5187
I’m excited to hear where you end up!
Awesome, thank you very much! I will be checking out the Talimena Scenic drive, that sounds like a perfect way to wander east.