Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Few of My Favorite Things

We ran away to Big Bend National Park for a few days this spring break. A site near the Rio Grande, great views of Sierra del Carmen in Mexico and the Chisos Mountains to the west. Shorts weather, a bit breezy, perfect for sleeping outdoors.

The coyotes yipped and screamed in the not too far distance. The remote paths and roads were crawling with visitors from all over the world. Sometimes we locals get a bit impatient when we have to deal with traffic jams in the middle of our special place. Then I think about all those people, enjoying the amazing outdoors, breathing the fresh air, especially all those college kids. They could be sitting in their dark apartments in the city, faces glowing in blue white isolation. Instead, they are climbing, delighting, exploring, sharing days with friends, making real connections.

For years I have had to fight to find desert solitude. Planning, preparing, phone calls, just to get everyone squared away so I could find the space to breathe by myself.

This year I rushed down to the park a day early to prepare base camp. Kids weren't ready to go, they wanted to meet me next day. So did my parents.

No problem for me! I carried down food for two armies, got situated, watched the full moon rise, felt crazy nature energy, read books, slept late.

They all trickled in the next afternoon, we worked together preparing a giant meal. My dad and Rose sat and helped me scoop out seeds from a couple dozen jalapenos. Then they filled them with cream cheese and garlic. I grilled them and some venison fajitas. Along with plenty of red peppers and onions. We made a giant bowl of fresh pico de gallo, see recipe below. Tortillas warmed on the grill, filled with good things. Mom took pictures and breathed inspiration for future paintings.

A hike down to the Rio Grande, rock skipping, rock throwing over to Mexico (Thank God no one has gotten around to putting up a wall yet!) and a sunset that cast pink and lavender glow over the universe as we knew it.

Plenty more fun, but by the next afternoon, everyone decided to go their separate ways. All of a sudden, I found myself alone. And I didn't even have to work for it.

I gave half a thought to going back home to work. Camp site was reserved for two more nights. I decided to stay.

It felt weird.

Not being alone. I have no problem with the quiet.

What felt weird was reality sinking in that my kids are growing up and moving on. They like to go camping with their pals. They enjoy their time with me, but it is as it should be. From me they learned to love the Big Bend, now they love to show it off to their friends.

I get this inkling I won't be fighting so hard to grab some solitude. I get this inkling I will have to fight hard to make family campouts happen. It is a battle worth fighting.

We made some super sweet memories. I enjoyed some time in my healing place and read three books plus quite a bit poetry. Managed to get back home and fit a week's worth of work into four days and still work in my garden.

Tradition. How many spring breaks have we enjoyed in the Big Bend? I don't know, but it feels right and good, no matter what flavor or constellation.

Pico de Gallo, my dad's recipe

*one onion, minced finely. Any onion good, but a red onion is super yummy
*two or three tomatoes, chopped finely
*one or two jalapenos, minced. Here's a little secret: when you shop for jalapenos, we have noticed that the ones with a blunt end are less spicy than the peppers with a pointed end! Why don't you test our hypothesis?!
*juice of two limes, or more, to your taste, we love lime!
*two or three cloves garlic, minced
*one bunch cilantro, chopped finely
*salt to taste

Stir together, try to wait until flavors blend together. If you can. We find that we have to taste for salt, for lime, and before you know it, half the bowl and half a bag of corn tortilla chips has disappeared into thin air!

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