Thursday, July 23, 2009

smells like central texas

growing up, we moved all over texas. but the roots that i always connected with a home i never had, were in my mother's hometown of
lampasas. lampasas is up highway 183 from austin by an hour and a half or so. it's a small town. much smaller in the 60's when i used to visit my granny. my blood-grandfather died in world war II; granny, my mother's mother, remarried a few years later. that man, don, was the granddady i knew. he died when i was eight or nine or ten. so granny had a boyfriend after that, though she wouldn't get married. i think she was superstitious. her boyfriend from then on was johnny, who lived on a big ranch outside lampasas.
i remember a zillion things about lampasas, and granny's house, and johnny's ranch. but all those years we moved around, and then for all the years until we moved to austin, there was one thing that took me back instantly to granny's house, and johnny's ranch, and granny's back yard, and hancock park. big oak trees. and sycamore trees. hot sycamore trees. summertime sycamore trees have a specific smell. powerful. beautiful.
(granny's garage had a very specific smell, too, which was great - she was a neat freak and her garage was very clean. but it had the smell of her lawn mower, and her ford ltd and cigarettes. cool.)
(i also loved the smell of a skunk on the road - not because it smells good, but because i smelled it so many times driving between granny's house and johnny's ranch.)
central texas soil has a specific smell too. and the air does. and it's good. even in crowded, ever-growing cedar park, north of austin, where our house is, the smell of the air is specific central texas. beauty.
through the years, as we moved from north texas to outside houston to far south texas to the coast to the plains to east texas, when i'd come back anywhere near lampasas, i'd breathe deeply and feel like my soul was home. i'd remember instantly. i'd see. i'd relax.

we've lived in austin for eight years this month, and when we first moved here, i would just step outside and breathe. smell central texas. i'd smell the live oaks and the mesquites and the scrub cedars and, around the corner, the sycamores.
but ... i find that i now keep forgetting. i'm used to it. it's just life. i've got errands to run and things to do. i step outside and realize i need to mow the lawn or take out the trash or get the mail. i don't have time to - well, you get it.

i remembered, a few days ago. i walked outside, with other things on my mind, and stopped. i breathed. it's hot right now and i felt it. i remembered. i smelled the air, the air all around my house and my neighborhood and my suburb. and i relaxed. the lampasas river and granny's back yard with perfect grass, and a skunk on the highway, and hot sycamore trees, a beautiful morning listening to doves. i remember cowboy hats and horses, and granny's jersey from her Medarts Service Station softball team, and the cold water in the city spring-fed pool, and white-limestone dirt, and mamaw and granddaddy milo's old white clapboard house, and pecan trees, and storm's drive-in ... and i feel my heart again ...



Laurel said...'s good to see you writing again, like this, in your blog.

Anonymous said...

dude, that is so given me a woodie!


Joe said...

now you know how I feel when I come from Laredo and visit Austin and the Hill Country. yes, absolutely ...

Grace and peace -- Joe

Anonymous said...

My niece's husband is in the military so their family has moved around - a lot. One hot summer day in Tucson, while my niece and her boys were out shopping, a rainstorm blew in dropping water on the hot pavement. My great-nephew stopped, took a deep breath, and said, "Ummmm, it smells like TEXAS."