Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Calm, Cool Texas

I love Texas. And we're finally here. But we're crammed in a traffic jam, backed up on Interstate 10 from Rose City  to Beaumont.

I check the Web and learn that hours ago, a truck overturned carrying hazardous material. So the fire department closed a part of this main Texas thoroughfare for cleanup.

So we're stuck. With thousands of others. Oh, we're moving. But not much. We inch, then sit.

I look around. Hmmm. No one appears angry or even irritable. No frustrated horn blasts. No yelling, cursing. No fist shaking at God.  People behave, well, cordially. This is Texas. So laid back.

Oh, look. A few  hot-rodders scramble past us on the shoulder. Ha! They gain a five-car advantage. An ambulance scoots by, using that same space. Everyone edges over, courteously.  A Texan being born?

Finally, after nearly three hours,  we and thousands of others funnel to freedom down the little Magnolia Street exit, which leads us to our 10 p.m. fast-food dinner.

A lady next to me in line stands with her arms relaxed, reading the menu. She's with two teen girls, who cuddle, giggling, over a freezer case.

"Were you on the highway?" I ask.

"Oh, yes," the lady clicks her tongue, tucks her chin and looks at me over her glasses. "We came to Beaumont for a prom dress. Well, that store's sure closed by now. And I'm not doing this again tomorrow. She'll shop in Lake Charles."

"Well, how's she taking it?" I asked. Then thought, silly me. I know the answer. A missed prom-dress opportunity? Pure meltdown.

"Not well at all," the lady clucked.

I look at the teens again, straining to find that angst, that teenage prom-dress drama. But, they look calm.

Just like all those drivers.

I love Texas.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More Than Just Cardboard Cutouts

We're at Cherokee Campground in Helena AL, and I'm struggling to multitask.

I hope no one is watching.

My two dogs zig-zag in front of me, braiding their leashes with the bag of trash I'm trying to carry.

They stop to sniff, their leashes go slack, the bag of trash is freed.

When we continue our walk, I hold the trash bag higher in one hand this time and their leashes together in the other. We look silly. I hope no one is watching.

But look. There. A man. It's dark. Yet still, he waves. Oh gee, he's waving at me? Why?

Oh wait. HA! It's not a man. It's one of those stupid cutouts, those painted-back silhouettes  people stick next to their mailbox, or on the side of their garage.

I don't see the need. In fact, I think it's quite, well impertinent. Startling me, unnecessarily. Making me think someone is watching me. To what end?

I walk by the wooden form, dump my trash and we head back to the motorhome for the night. We sleep.

The next morning, we head out for our morning walk down to the lake to see the geese, explore the campground. 
And immediately I see another stupid cut-out.  It's a cat, chasing a squirrel, along a bench.

It's kind of cute. Very well done. I smile.

We turn the corner. And look!  Goose cutouts mingling with real geese. And there's more. Bears, cubs, horses, dogs, more cats, squirrels, women, men, a whole community of shadow dwellers.

As we walk, we see them everywhere, silently going about their lives, chasing each other, watering their flowers, watching us.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Wind Rocks Our World

We're complaining because it's windy and cold.

We left a balmy Syracuse winter to escape to the Teas coastline. To get there,  we're driving through disastrously cold and windy weather in southern Ohio and Kentucky.

Our 24-foot motorhome rocks back and forth violently as we crawl down the highway, going 44 mph. We're pummeled, whammed repeatedly by menacing wind gusts. Still, we inch along. Because the coast of Texas beckons.

And, as we inch, we complain, and cover ourselves in three, four layers of balmy-weather clothes  because we failed to pack the stuff that stands up to winter.

And we complain, as we pump $5.19-a-gallon propane into our tank so we can crank up the inside heater so we won't become ice cubes.

And we complain as we walk our dogs in the wind and the snow and the horrible cold. Oh, how we pity us.

Our phone rings, and it's our neighbors from back home. Worried about us. Are we OK? (Yes.) Did we hear the news?

No ... What news?

Less than 150 miles to our east, while we were complaining, a tornado was killing people, destroying communities. Tearing families a apart. I just read about a 2-year-old, found barely alive in a field, who is now critical in a local hospital. Her parents and siblings dead. Killed by that tornado.

All that death. All that destruction. How pitiful our complaints.