Yesterday morning felt brisk as we loaded up bread for the two farmer's markets. Patrick took care of things for me in Alpine, and Thomas, Rose, her friend and Nora loaded up to head south to Terlingua ghost town.
The sun warmed our faces as customers found their way to our spot in the desert. I was surprised at the number of Big Bend Ultra runners who discovered our little group and bought bread and granola and spelt chocolate chip cookies.
After market, the kids and I took picnic goodies (leftover bakery cookies and bread come in handy!) and traversed the bumpy Old Maverick Road to Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park. I paused in the middle of the desert to make the kids get out and exclaim over Luna's Jacal, a long structure, only 4ft high or so, roofed with mud and ocotillo, that housed a family of 10 or 12, back in pre-park days. Mr. Luna lived to see his 90's and was a respected man in the region. I suggested that our house wasn't nearly so small in comparison.
We got back in the truck and bore down on the massive canyon. Fifteen hundred foot walls of stone rise up from the lazy Rio Grande. We spread our table cloth and I proceeded to slice bread and tomatoes. A greedy roadrunner displayed his antics for the children, hoping they would disobey their mother and toss bits of spelt pound cake and organic almond raisin granola.
After a nice meal we hiked to the river and skipped rocks and Nora exclaimed, "Look! There is one of Mamaw's paintings!" as she stood mesmerized, peering toward the awesome canyon, amazed to see Santa Elena in real life.
We climbed up and in, leaving sunshine for shadows, taking off shoes to enjoy the powdery sand, shouting our echoes to the Mexican side.
Some of our party decided to walk in the cold water. Not me. Brr. We looked at gigantic boulders and raccoon tracks and fissures and fossils. And spent some more time searching out the most amazing rock skipping specimens. 3 skips was my record. Must be out of practice. Definitely out of Rose and Raymond's league.
What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Next morning we drove to the East River Road in the park and cheered and hollered as Patrick came in, barely breaking a sweat, first place of all the 60 or 70 10k runners. Another fellow came in a minute or two later, then Patrick's best friend, one more guy, then, to our delight, along came my Maggie! 1st place in the woman's bracket! I have to admit that I was pretty teary.
The kids remind me that the serious competitors ran in the 25k and the 50k sections of the Big Bend Ultra. They think it is no big deal to run 10k. I remind them that they are running against folks who have been training for a long time, lots of adults, and that they came in first and I am PROUD! Of course I also reminded them that I would love them, even if they quit half way through. But being their mom, it is my job to be proud!
They have only been running since September 2011, but have been doing so under the direction of an amazing coach who lives to train these kids to love to run even more than to run to win. Their motto is "Run for your life." Can you imagine how cool it was for me to watch Maggie and Patrick compete in an amazing race in our favorite National Park, after all the years of their childhood spent vacationing out there?
I want to write inspiring posts about Nora and Rose and their dolls, perched atop a rocky mountain, gazing into the distance looking for their siblings. I want to wax poetically about the Hot Springs,seeing the kids and their comrades soaking tired muscles in the 105 degree mineral water, then leaping into the cold Rio Grande, sounds of joy echoing across Texas and Mexico.
So many colors I wish to describe and history and culture. But I am tired and have to get up extra early in the morning. So I throw out a few notes to help myself remember.
And to keep a few of you updated. At least briefly.
PS Sunny days of 65-75 degree weather haven't exactly hurt my feelings. This morning it felt eery to go to school in 57 degree weather. The wind came to shove things around, and you know what? I felt right at home and I suppose I should have gone outside to shout out hello and say thank you for coming all the way from the Catawba Valley to visit us. Her energy was electric. The roof and the doors on the greenhouse moaned and wished she would leave us alone. But I was kind of happy to hear her scurrying around, putting things "into order." Clearing a few more trees of leaves. If she is still around tomorrow, I will definitely give her a shout. Such wild memories of her slamming down our valley, blasting trees and barn and doors with a vengeance.