Tuesday, 16 April 2013

We stayed, on our travels, in an old ranch-house

We stayed, on our travels, in an old ranch-house, built here in 1859, when Texas was a very different place. Sam Houston became Governor in that year, and far to the north-east, John Brown led a raid on the federal armoury at Harper's Ferry, sparking what is often held to be the genesis of the civil war. Two  years later, against Houston's strong counsel, Texas became one of the five states that seceded from the Union.
Also, in this year, Juan Cortina spoke out against the mistreatment of mexicans within Texas by the incoming settlers, and led a short-lived uprising centred on Brownsville.
Just a few miles away to the north-west, the U.S. army was sending an expedition to map the way west, men, camels, and mules, faltering and dying of thirst on the way.

I say this because I sometimes joke, unfairly, that Texas' history started only last thursday; -coming from a place where I can see evidences of the sweep of history pretty much forever back into the past, iron-age, bronze age, celts, vikings, romans, it amuses me to see what in my world would be unremarkable buildings revered because they were built in 1920, and thus are 'Historic'....
I pass a building every day here, built in a.d. 1150.
A few miles away, I can find 4000 year-old stone carvings on the moor tops.

Staying in this cabin, travelling through the Texas hill-country, I was very aware that the people who settled this land were truly pioneers of the unknown. This was the frontier, the edge of the known world. Yes, California and the west coast were being settled, but for the most part, the lands to the north and west of here remained unmapped and mysterious. Life was precarious and uncertain. 

Now, in the current era, life is not so bad, and the Gruene Homestead Inn (New Braunfels, handy for San Antonio and Austin,) is a very good choice as a place to stay. More about it later, maybe. One of the pleasures here is breakfast, held in the main house, a rather grander affair, moved bodily across the street and planted here a few years back. This is the only place I've ever seen fruit salad with strawberries teamed with hard-boiled eggs and cheese.

(Very tasty, I must say. Especially after a good dose of bacon and scrambled egg).
"How", you might ask,  "do they shell all those eggs?"

They have a machine to do it, of course!

At the Gruene Homestead Inn, this sight intrigues me, the old well and water tank. Wind pumps are a common sight in the vistas of Texas, in so much of the country, the water's deep below the surface. But here, the hard edges of the steel are tempered and softened by the twining wisteria, who sees the  opportunity, in her embrace, to climb above the surrounding countryside, turning the steelwork into a frame for her blue flowers and soft green foliage.
We stayed here a year ago. Another post from this place can be found here.

Sometimes I see this as a metaphor for us, RDG and me. Each partakes of the other's qualities, and each gains in the exchange. Over the years, like the windpump and wisteria, we've grown together, and entwined.

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  1. Now you can understand why I'm afraid to touch anything over 100 years old !!

    I like your metaphor. You give me structure and security that allow me to rise up and see the world in a whole new way. Not sure what the wind pump is getting out this transaction ....Maybe it likes knowing it is now rooted to the earth ??!


    1. From an engineering point of view? The bad side of all wind-powered devices on tall towers is vibration, oscillation. The organic wrap here would tend to absorb it, damp it out, steady the shudders and shivers, reduce the fatigue.
      From the romantic point of view?
      I'm sure the wind-pump loves the feeling of being entwined in a shoulder to toe hug.
      And the heady scent of flowers and foliage offsetting his cologne of old gear oil, and rust.

    2. I do so love that romantic side of yours ;)


  2. Howdy, so you're a Texan now (wearing a cool hat and voting for a Bush family member). I wouldn't mind having a rusty classic car in my front garden. When I visited Israel some of the kibbutz had old Arab tanks (conquered during one of their wars) parked on their front lawns. I guess having a tank at hand in Israel is not such a bad idea.

    1. Not a Texian yet......

      And rusty classics, oh yes, I'm just itching to get to work.
      I have a heap of photos.
      I visited Israel in ....... 1972!
      It was part of a whirlwind tour of the eastern mediterranean.

      While there, I remember an old Arab who was driving our bus pointing out mile after mile of pineapples and melon fields, then, on the other side of a fence, arab lands "Pah" he said (I'm paraphrasing) "The Israelis bring fruit out of the desert, we arabs, we take paradise, and turn it into desert".
      He was not a great supporter of his own people. He pointed out that the Israelis were building what he called paradise, while his own people sat still.

  3. There is a great line in the narration of the Ken Burns film “Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery” that says that we knew more about the moon when we went than these first explorers knew about the geography of where they were going. They stepped out on the plains, and there was nothing but grass for as far as they could see.

    I would like to point out that even with London’s 2000 year head start, technologically we are neck to neck with ya’ll.
    Shoot, we might even be ahead!

  4. When my dad was in the R.A.F., eggs en masse were dropped in a sieve....


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