Prancing Around Pedernales
October 20, 2014 § 1 Comment
When I taught in Italy, every class to which I introduced myself as being from Texas responded with a “Woah! So you ride horses and live in the desert?” (and I, naturally, responded with a “Yes. And I always carry a rifle under my cowboy hat.”)
Living in Austin, I feel like we are outside of that stereotypical Texas bubble (for the most part). And, although there are reminders in the form of hand-drawn Tex Mex signs and armadillo memorabilia, it’s easy to get absorbed in the thriving city life and forget the fact that, a few miles away, is the real Texas. In all of its glorious emptiness. The Texas that stretches on forever and doesn’t have a schedule to adhere to or people to respond to. The Texas that isn’t made up of buildings, but of nature. Rocks and dirt and water.
Yesterday, I had my first real day off since I got back into town, and I was in desperate need of sunshine and fresh air. So, I packed a few apples and zoomed west, out of town, toward Pedernales Falls State Park. An hour away, a world apart.
Leaving the car at the top of the parking lot hill, I headed off to tackle the 5.5-Mile Loop first. It started out crossing the river:
, and through colorful cactus fields:
, and through less happy cactus fields:
, and between seas of yellow:
, and under rugged tree branches:
, and through a low canopy of shrubberies that blended in with the flat surroundings as the gentle turns became a sort of therapeutic progression into away:
I had never really appreciated the barrenness and dryness of Texas, nor the Flying Biting Things and Creepy Crawling Creatures, but I left on this excursion with an open mind and eagerness to experience the things that the outing had to offer. Life is made up of moments, and each ‘phase’ of moments has its own set of charms.
The beauty of life is overarching and all-encompassing, but I think that another level of appreciation is reached when you take each phase that life offers and extract all of the wonder and lessons of that chapter, and make the most of it. I loved my days of running around New York, searching for jazz, or teaching in Milano and going to the opera, or living in Austin and breathing theatre, or backpacking through random countries, but they are all chapters, each with their own adventures and splendors, and it is this juxtaposition of opportunities and experiences that sets them apart and makes them special and even more beautiful for what they are. And you just need to drink your fill of what is offered in the moment.
And sometimes, the easiest way to look at life in a new way is to just turn yourself upside down. So, that’s what I did. I sprawled myself over a large rock in the middle of the stream, let the water play with my hair, and watched the world upside down. It’s kind of cool, to watch the water fly downward, to the sky, and water splashes rising upwards, and everything happening the opposite way of how it usually does. It’s strange, but intriguing. Makes you woner why things are how they are, and how they are not. Life in inversion. New perspective, new gravity.
Maybe even time can be viewed as the contrary of what it is; adding up, instead of running out? Where consuming time doesn’t diminish the supply, but merely gives you more… of something that doesn’t exist. I contemplated life a bit, with a swarm of large orange butterflies to keep me company:
After another few miles of hiking barefoot next to the stream, I ended up at Pedernales Falls, just as the evening sun cast that dark gold light upon the land:
I had another Contemplation Session here, perched on another rocky island. And I felt very, very appreciative of the clarity of the moment.
It was a great day off, out of the city. The Texas landscape isn’t something that I ever took a particular fancy to, but I kind of fell in love with it in this moment.
Because there is nowhere else in the world quite like it.
[** To make the outing even more special, at the very end of it, as I was pulling myself up the last rocky hilltop, covered in dust and sweat and scratchy scratches, I ran into a woman who greeted me with a “oh my gosh, you’re the travel blogger girl!”. I had never been recognized by a stranger in the middle of a state park before, especially not for my online rambles. We had a lovely conversation, and I walked away grinning ear-to-ear, feeling a little bit like a celebrity for a few minutes.
So, this one is for you. Thank you.]