Texas was so lovely. Mesquites gently jostling their frond-like leaves of light green seem innocent at first sight, unique, but hide the spear-point thorns the rancher mostly hates. Moving along serpentine back roads interconnecting on my route from Llano to Fredericksburg via The Willow City Loop was as stunning as ever.
Fredericksburg’s Main Street is about four times bigger and more congested than when we lived there and ten times more crowded with the meandering hoards. It’s lost more than it’s gained, but I think tat is where consumerism thrives and is supposedly ‘good economics’. I understand how that works, but then there are things that don’t change, mostly things that man has less to do with, and one of those things is the Willow City loop where I used to live and have my workshop.
The Loop is quite remote even for Texas. It’s one of the two loveliest places I’ve ever lived in terms of peace, quiet, beauty and such, the other was further south in the Hill Country north of Uvalde: ‘the land of a thousand springs.‘ I didn’t make it that far this trip but next time I will fill in the blanks by extending some time down there.
Whereas Texas, and other states too will always give me fondly familial memories and ties, I was surprised at my sense of feeling home when the Dreamliner landed at London, Gatwick. The flights, both there and back, were flawless. I remember flights in and out of the USA after nine one one were very different when airport security was less defined and impossibly shaped by its temporariness. ATS hired anybody with a driver’s licence and treated everyone abruptly or even abrasively for a couple of years. I avoided Philadelphia as the worst hub the US had to offer as a result. ‘Texas friendly’ has always been just that. It’s hard to beat walking down any street when half the people nod a ‘Howdy!‘ as you pass – even in today’s hectic culture. It’s such an antidote to the toxic isolationism I see in other parts.
Driving to Oxfordshire was pleasant enough but arriving in Abingdon really comforted me. I slept for just an hour and couldn’t wait to get on my bike and investigate the nature changes on paths where I cycle. The air was heavy with the scent of Hawthorn and of course everything was fully clothed with that lush green that seems so able to absorb the excesses of life.
A profusion of forget-me-nots (myosotis) skirted by bluebells, red campion and a dozen more have blocked out spheres of vibrant colour. A new batch of ducklings swam alongside their mamas and papas, oblivious to the teeth of pike beneath them. They scurry this way and that in aimless loops, twists and turns, herded by their mother to stay close in a tight huddle now and then. Can she count? Inevitably I will see five mallard chicks one day and four later in the week. Such is the nature of life in the wild. Not being a TV watcher the hotel cafeteria programs bombarded me for half an hour by Stateside news espousing on European issues. It’s as if they had no issues of their own, and then advertising for health care products to take care of what’s easier taken care of by simple diet change and exercise. Not everything of course. Being a long term diabetic I understand my reliance on insulin and so too do others rely on meds. The breakfast menu was laden with pork so I stuck to oatmeal (porridge), fresh fruit mostly.
My bike ride renewed me. I ended up at the new house and organised some of my tools, swept the shavings I had left on the floor in my rush to the airport. One place I would truly recommend to eat if you fly out of Austin’s Bergstrom airport is The Peached Tortilla.
I ate the Cauliflower version, a veggie option, and it was the very best tortilla I ever tasted bar none. I ate two!