Our current situation hasn’t changed too much over the past couple weeks. We are still hunkered down in the Texas hill country northwest of San Antonio … but that’s not all bad. We have fallen in love with this place. It is so quiet and peaceful here. The scenic views of the lake with the distant hills would inspire any artist to pick up a brush. The crisp cool mornings gradually give way to warm afternoons and most often a slight gentle breeze rustles the trees tops. The deer have accepted our presence and greet us each day with a polite glance and a quick flick of the tail.
We have established a daily routine that keeps us occupied. We spend time doing a little exercise and we go on long walks together. Grammi has taken up a cross-stitch project and works on it daily while I read or work on some writing. Occasionally we lie in the hammock, close our eyes, and listen to the songs from the many birds living in the trees. Each day we pick one thing…one activity to accomplish. That might be clean the camper day, or wash the truck day, or laundry day, or grocery shopping day, or play putt-putt golf day, or take a drive in the countryside day, or…anyway you get the picture. So far the days seem to pass quickly.
There is little interaction with people in the park other than a distant wave or a friendly greeting shouted from one campsite to the other. Everyone takes the six foot social distance rule to the extreme and makes it the twenty foot rule. When we cross paths with someone during our walks, people go out of their way to keep their distance going as far as stepping off the path and back into the woods to allow us pass. I get it though, most folks here are senior citizens and they’re scared. I heard a guy say the other day that he has all the risk factors. He’s in his seventies with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc, etc, etc. He said, “if I get the virus I’m dead”.
I’ve been practicing social distancing most of my life. I lean toward being introverted. I’m not gifted with an ability for small talk. I enjoy alone time so I’m not having as much difficulty being isolated as some others may be. Grammi on the other hand is much more social…more extroverted…and needs to be around people. She’s coping. She spends a lot of time on the phone talking with our children, her sister, her friends. We have learned how to zoom! Zoom, if you haven’t heard, is a teleconferencing application that lets us video chat with groups of people all at once. We’ve been doing this weekly with our family. It helps.
We celebrated grammi’s birthday over the weekend. It’s difficult when you can’t go out anywhere on special days like this. I usually take her out to a nice restaurant on her birthday. This year however, I cooked her dinner. I made a mushroom, pepper and onion red sauce and served it over potato gnocchi. She said it was “yummy”. After cleaning up all the dishes, I gave her a foot massage which she seemed to really enjoy. We zoomed with the kids and they all sang “happy birthday” to her. Maybe this was not the best of birthdays but we tried to make it a special day.
Lately, I’ve seen pictures on social media of “stay at home” haircuts with some disastrous results. Actually they’re pretty hilarious. Many of them look like they where done with a weed-eater or perhaps a machete. A few days ago I sat outside while grammi took the clippers to me. She had never cut my hair before. “Just trim up the back of the neck and around the ears”, I instructed. I think she was as nervous as I was so she was very careful not to cut too much. After she was finished she stood back and looked at me. “There”, she proudly said as she moved from one side to the other, “that looks so much better”. But when I looked in the mirror I couldn’t tell the difference. No worries though, I think I may have dodged a bullet. Maybe it’s best to just let my hair grow until all this social distance stuff is over. We’ll see.
There is a small country grocery store and a Dollar General down at the bottom of the hill less than five miles away where we picked up a few grocery items the first week we where here. Even during normal times they have a very limited inventory, so one day last week grammi and I thought we would make the forty mile drive to the closest HEB store to stock up on groceries. HEB is the areas large grocery store chain and we thought we could get everything we needed there. When we pulled into the parking lot we saw a building the size of super Walmart where people wearing face masks stood outside in a long line waiting to get in. Security personnel were at the doors controlling the flow of customers in and out. When one person exited another was allowed in. The parking lot was full and vehicles were driving in circles looking for a place to park. Immediately I thought “Whoa! Are you kidding me? What was I thinking coming here”? I saw in the news where this was happening at stores across the country but I guess until you see it first-hand it just doesn’t sink in. We never once got out of the truck. Grammi and I made a lap around the parking lot, spun a u-turn and headed back to the small country grocery at the bottom of the hill. We’ll just make due with what we can find there.
One day earlier this week grammi and I were feeling a little cooped up. We started getting that “cabin fever”. So I planned a drive around the lake to explore the countryside and maybe see the lake from a different prospective.
I looked at Google Maps and plotted a course. It didn’t look to be too far and I thought we’d be back in an hour or so. Well…it took a little longer than that! I should of known when we passed that sign stating “End of State Maintained Highway” that we should of reconsidered our intensions. But we tracked ahead. The asphalt pavement narrowed and it became increasing more difficult to dodge the potholes. Soon the pavement ended altogether and we found ourself on a single lane gravel road; a dust cloud trailing behind. Every mile or so we would drive over a cattle crossing grid. At one point we came to a gate with a sign saying “Private Road”. We had to back-track and find a new route. A tip for those using Google Maps in rural areas: zoom in and read the fine print.
After we got over the initial anxiety and surrendered to the fact we were in the boonies and we were not going to go any faster than twenty MPH, we relaxed, took our time and just enjoyed the drive. We past many ranches and admired all the different ranch gates adorned with artwork and namesake signage. Each one unique. The cattle grazing near the road seemed to roam free. Oddly, we passed one ranch with a dozen or so camels that glared at us as we passed by. Overall we had an enjoyable afternoon adventure and we were glad to get away from the campground for a few hours.
Grammi noticed that some of the folks here have a hummingbird feeder hanging at their campsite and thought she would like to have one, so I stopped at the hardware store the other day and bought one. We hung it in a tree next to the camper and within minutes the first hummingbird appeared. I am surprised by the amount of entertainment one can get from a bird feeder. We’ve spend hours watching the tiny birds dart back and forth to the feeder. One of them has apparently claimed the feeder as his own and sits on a nearby branch keeping an eye on it. When another hummingbird comes near he swoops down to chase it off. Once in a while though , a smaller female would stop to take a drink and the male will just sit a watch her. Go figure!
So are we living a mundane life lacking in the adventure we so much desire? I’m not sure. I guess it depends on how you define adventure. Is a trip to the grocery store an adventure? Can beauty be found on an old gravel road through the Texas hill country. Can we find joy quietly observing nature? This pandemic suddenly changed the world. We’re all asking ourselves the same question, “When will it end?”. There is no definitive answer but certainly it will end. We will all resume what they are calling the new normal and we will get on with our lives. The good Lord willing, grammi and I will start exploring again but in the mean time we will find adventure in the little things that life offers.
Be safe and please leave a comment below.