Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cue the John Denver Music

There are two things that really make me hungry for bbq and that is blinding heat (bbq = the promise of an icy glass of sweet tea) and country roads. Country roads on sunny days also make me want to find the nearest tire swing and some Country Time Lemonade, but that's because I'm a sucker for marketing.

I have found myself driving down many country roads during this recent respite from the real world. Roads that have taken me to tiny Texas towns like Gonzales, where the battle for Texas independence was won, to Bastrop, where an amazing amount of grand old mansions stretch and sprawl along the banks of the Colorado, and to Smithville, the backdrop of Hope Floats and home to many businesses that subsist on broadcasting their proximity to the "Hope Floats house" (turns out I'm a sucker for that, too). These virtually empty days made me itch for daytrips into small local towns where I might pick through rusty bins of old house parts at antique shops. My mother and sister agreed to make a day of this activity with me and all the country driving got us hungry for some side-of-the-road bbq. We stumbled into the first place my sister's iphone found and I realized through their reaction to the place, how much more often I find myself in these grungy, authentic, fantastic places than most people in my life.

Do I mind eating brisket on a plastic chair beneath a stuffed bobcat mysteriously attached to the wall? Heck no! In fact, I love this atmosphere so much that I actually welcome being called honey and sweetie by the women behind the counter; endearments that normally make me cringe. And when it's hot as hell and I'm driving through the country, there's nothing more refreshing than a large sweet tea, smokey beans, stuffed animal trophies, and smiling strangers.

Jeremy and I also traveled newly discovered country roads this weekend in order to pick up our first load of a year's worth of hay at our new rancher friends' house. Yes. We have rancher friends now. These are the folks who famously saved Matilda and who are deeply embedded in Dwayne's super-network-of-rural-uber-friendly-neighbor-people. Their offer of reasonably priced hay lured us out for a Saturday trip. We planned to load up several bales, unload at the land quickly, and repeat this process three times before sundown. Our rancher friends had other plans for us. We were met at the gate by six dogs, four giant horses (Of which one was offered as a gift. NO. no. I was seriously gifted a horse), three men, one woman, two teenagers, and a young boy (who introduced me to his cat, Wizard's, three kittens). All of these individuals approached the fence packed onto a large tractor and golf cart. We said hello, we made small talk, we handed over the hay money, we attempted to leave, and we did - a short four hours later. Lesson #291 in rural communities: One must not arrive at a neighbors house without the plan to "set" for a while, have a beer, try some food, and talk about the weather. Any deviation from this deeply rooted tradition is rude and unforgivable.

A few beers later, and to Jeremy's dismay, I politely accepted the horse-gift. I have no idea when the horse can come and live on our land, or how I will ever convince Jeremy that we do in fact need a large thoroughbred to join our tiny cow family. What I do know is that my little vacation went too quickly and is already a memory of buttermilk pie, sleepy-town antique shops, and meandering conversations with neighbors amidst cicada song, underneath oak trees and the setting sun, sweat trickling down the back, cold drink in hand. And in case you were wondering, I was successful in finding antique house stuff cool enough to purchase approximately 1-10 years too soon.

Doesn't every country home need an old, gigantic porcelain sink salvaged from an isolated farm house? Yes? I thought so too.

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