Tuesday, June 2

Home Again...Home Again

Day 2
After a 12+ hour car drive the day before, we awoke (in Texas) to a morning filled with gentle, cool breezes bird song, blue skies and the possibility of coconut cake for breakfast!

Mom was up first and it was the sound of her tidying the living room that woke me. It got suddenly quiet, so I knew she'd slipped outside were I'd find her tending to her plants. The woman never sits still.

I switched on the coffee pot as I walked through the kitchen and headed for the deck. I couldn't wait to see the view and get a good morning hug from Mom. She is a champion hugger, as was my grandma, and I wasn't going to miss a single one since we'd be at her place less than 24 hours. The view was spectacular as the level of the lake was up from the spring rains and the new owners of the marina had done some long-overdue improvements to the shoreline.

On my second cup of coffee, I heard the Lovely Linda stirring, so went to wish her a good morning. Once she downed her first cup of coffee, we went for a walk around the Marina so she could get a sense of the place. Dropped deep in the thickest part of the Piney Woods at the tip of a peninsula on the Toledo Bend Reservoir, it's a sight to see, with the juxtaposition of deep green forest growing to the shore of a sparkling lake and a variety of water and shore birds to hold any bird watcher's interest. Oh, and there's the fishing.
Photo courtesy of www.toledo-bend.com

This is an aerial shot of Texas Island in the Toledo Bend Reservoir, which runs north to south along the Texas/Louisiana border.

After a leisurely breakfast on the deck, the Lovely Linda was ready to see more, so we hopped in the Mom bus (her beloved Suburban) and headed to Hemphill for an up close and personal look at a small East Texas town dependent upon the timber industry and tourism for survival.

The drive over the the bridge to Six Mile was spectacular with the morning sun creating ripples of silver on the water. The horizon I so deeply missed was before me and my minds eye drank it in. I have to have ready recall of the expanse of the Texas horizon during Tennessee summers, where I can only see as far as the edge of the yard.

There original town square, complete with courthouse was a great place to start on our "tour". We found a parking space under the shade of a pecan tree and headed straight to jail...the Sabine County Jail, which is now a museum and library. One of the few "hanging jails" in the nation, it's been restored by the local historical society and gives one pause to reflect on the wisdom of capital punishment, exacted at the end of noose.

After a sobering visit to jail, we toured the courthouse and saw the handy work of a prisoner who was in for a long stint. Seems he passed the time using his skills in woodworking, building and restoring the banisters, benches, desks and jury box of the courtroom.

No trip to a small Texas town would be complete without a stop in the local feed store. There, we were greeted by the cheep, cheeps of chicks and ducklings and some curious kittens. A little more driving around town, looking at turn-of-the-century homes in varying stages of restoration (or tumbling down) and it was back on the road to Mom's and lunch.

On the way back, we stopped in at Mom's church (Oak Hill Baptist Church). This is a one room church set deep in the woods with an adjoining cemetery where my step dad Bill is buried. A bit of sadness fell around me, thinking of him out there under six feet of red clay soil, but I couldn't bring myself to walk over to his grave site. I think Mom sensed my mood and quickly diverted my attention to the air-conditioned portable building the church moved in next to the sanctuary to house all of her decorating supplies. Mom's in charge of decorating the church on Sundays and holidays. She needs a lot of working space for all her stuff.

Back at the marina, we prepared for a late afternoon lunch on the deck. It was a feast and gave us the energy we'd need to make the drive to Houston.

One of the highlights (besides the coconut cake) was the spotting of a male summer tanager taking an afternoon bath. I wasn't quick enough to grab the camera, but here's a photo I found on the internet:

What a handsome bird!

All too soon, the car was packed and pointed in a southwesterly direction to Houston. Arriving well past dark, we fell into bed to sleep off the road fatigue and prepare ourselves for the friends, celebrations and adventures to come.

Day 3

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment...a trip back to my youth.

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