Saturday, April 24, 2010


Yesterday, in celebration of Battle of Flowers Day here in Tres Leches, we betook ourselves, as we have now for five years, to the beach at Malaquite, at the north end of the Padre Island National Seashore. With the day off from school on Friday, we traded parade mania for surf, always an easy bargain with the two resident ocean-babies y yo, who for eleven years cut my teeth on Mardi Gras parades and have since retired from the loveliness of street mayhem. There are New Orleans natives who for years have skipped the Carnival party to go skiing; the surf, I suppose, is our local brand of self-induced party exile.

Thursday night, Walden and I pitched the Walrus tent in the back yard, under the trees. Just about the time I pronounced it probably okay to leave the "fly" off and sleep with the sheer panels open to the night sky, a heavy mist descended: it passed quickly, but we went with the fly after all, though we left all the side panels open to a delicious night breeze. Tina woke us about 7:20 and we lollygagged onto the road about an hour later. Many's the time we'll blaze out of town long before the break of dawn, but this lazy approach felt good.

Hit Corpus about 10:45 and headed for Hester's Cafe, one of our new finds: Tina and I "lived" there during spring break, while Walden was off with the church youth group in Port Aransas. For his introductory meal, he chose a passel of French toast made with challah bread. The dish is called Hester's Griddle Toast, and it's accompanying mantra is "Think Big. Eat Big. Be Big." I'm sure I could cover all three (particularly Part III) if I were to make HGT my recurring choice.

We got to Malaquite about 1, just as three busloads of elementary urchins were making their way back to the buses, leaving the beach surprisingly unpeopled. Partied with the waves for about 45 minutes (strong pull), then parked it in the shade for a while, reading Roberto Bolano's increasingly seductive novel 2666. The second time out, we found a stretch of exuberantly pounding waves that crashed us but good and again managed to toss my latest sunglasses into the Gulf. I buys 'em cheap at Dollar General, so the sacrifice to trickstering Yemaya is worth the thrill.

More Bolano, drowsy dozing, a walk up the beach, a final pounding. By the time we gathered up to leave at 6:30, there were perhaps three people still on the beach, four cars in the parking lot. Unbelievably serene.

Obligatory showers and then the even more obligatory trip to Snoopy's, the channel-side fish joint. The fish there is mouth-wateringly fresh; hilariously, our vegetarian son has long declared it the best restaurant in the universe, this despite the fact that his recurring order is a grilled cheese sandwich and curly fries, followed, of course, by two huge scoops of Blue Bell cookies and cream at the adjoining Scoopy's. Perhaps even more pathetically hilarious are my own vegetarian choices, now that I am trying to abjure the tastier fried okras and hush puppies. Steamed broccoli dipped in cocktail sauce can only get you so far, though I have to say that their Asian cole slaw is quite delectable. All this forswearing, of course, just makes this ice cream recidivist's (pralines and cream, if you must know) backsliding a tad more bearable. Sensible Tina, reiterating yet again to our haranguing son that as a shamanic whale she must have her fish, savors her delicious broiled mahi mahi. She pays no mind to Walden 's insistence that as a whale she should be eating krill or plankton.

We flew back up 281, arriving in Tres Leches right at midnight. Walden and I slipped back into the Walrus, just fifteen minutes before all hell broke loose: winds, lightning, thunder, and heavy rain. We were snug as bugs and perfectly dry.

* * *

I've known for some time now that the master plan in TL is to connect about twenty miles worth of Salado Creek trails, over the next 3-5 years, but after checking out the Greenway site this past week, I was surprised to see that major disconnected sections are already completed and open. I've decided to use my Saturdays to explore some of the other sections around town. Slightly hampered today by a schedule, I checked out the South Salado Creek stretch on the southeast side of town. The trailhead I used is just about half a mile east of the local shrine to the Black Madonna, so hiking with Mary and Yemaya seemed a cool thing. On the way down, I purchased my latest $6 pair of sunglasses.

All things considered, I prefer the Tobin to the South Salado, but there were still some up sides to the new (for me) stretch: much of the trail hugs the creek and the creek is much prettier down south: beautiful lazy green stretches, lots more creekrun and creekmurmur. I passed two natural springs (draped in obligatory ferns) that fed into the creek, and some of the stretches in the woods felt much more secluded than the Tobin, lovely stretches through a deep ravine of hardwoods. Wide splashes of Indian Blanket (gaillardia pulchella) ran through some mesquite thickets and one part of the trail comes up alongside the wide pastures of a farm: you truly feel as if you've slipped out of town altogether, even though you can see the Tower of the Americas off in the distance.

But, there were some down sides: the first mile of the trail runs through two adjoining county parks, full of partiers and music. I was happy for them to have such lovely green spaces to party in, but it just took longer to feel like I was leaving noise and bustle behind. Granted, the music wasn't bad: volleyballing funk devotees, followed by a cumpleanos with conjunto and Los Lonely Boys, and then, strangest of all, a reunion of easily a hundred or so septuagenarians being regaled by an onsite deejay playing dance-mixed Michael Jackson. When I looped back on the homeward stretch, MJ was still on the box.

Once into the woods, the trees were gorgeous: wonderful quiet, less than six other people on the trail for the whole stretch. The round trip route is 4.6 miles, shorter than I like, particularly for weekends: I prefer closer to six miles or longer. On the return trip to the Covington Park trailhead, I found a tiny plastic ninja on the trail, face down, for Walden.

Perhaps an interesting place in midwinter, when the parks themselves should be more deserted. I'm looking forward to next exploring a round trip 8 mile stretch of trail southwest of town that runs along the Medina River.

Gorgeous blazing blue-sky day, though, helped wonderfully by the 15-20 mph winds that kept the open stretches cooled down.



Anonymous Teresa said...

Love the many faces of your resident goddess :) You would do well to emulate her on the mahi mahi in the service of Kali the destroyer, I guess.

Sounds like a delicious couple of days, bro.

6:42 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Teresa: This or a similar comment may surface twice: weirdness on the Blogger front. Anyway, to the point: no mahi mahi for this one: seems phytoplankton's what's on the menu here.

Good to hear from you. I'll pass your praises onto the RG.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Dee Martin said...

Michael Jackson LOL - isn't it fun when serendipity appears and changes the character of the journey. Brave adventurers roughing it through the storm! I awoke to an extremely loud and close sounding clap of something at 3 in the am and met daughter in the hall - both intent on unplugging all the electronics. The loud noise was the destruction of a fairly large tree two houses down. Lightening struck it and divided it in two with a twist. It was close enough that a stuffed animal on daughter's shelves started playing music. I don't think I could have gotten her out in a tent for all the ice cream in Scoops (snoops and scoops is hilarious!)After the storm passed through we shared the blazing blue sky and wind. It was a great day for a trip to the nursery and doing a bit of digging in the yard. Mexican food for supper at a very small family owned place in town and couch potato time. Weekends are grand but I got my eye on summer. Heading into the final stretch professor!

7:48 PM  
Blogger Dee Martin said...

checked out 2666. don't know if I'm up to that. Finished Moonheart and working on the Dreaming Place. De Lint may not be for everyone but I love the way he throws everything into the mix and makes it all work, modern day Canada, North American Indian, 6th century Fairy Tales and makes it all fit together without a hiccup.

7:55 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Dee: Talk about couch potatoes and trees: we've watched the first two Fellowship of the Rings movies today: Walden's first time: he's a big fan of Legolas. Your tree story reminded me of the Ents. Sounds like a wonderful weekend going on up your way: we had that same post-storming blue down here.

2666 has certainly crept in. I'm still trying to remember who pointed me Bolano's way - it was someone in the blogtribe; I'm hooked, despite the little time I've been able to give it so far.

You do the same synthesis that de Lint does: no surprise you all are writing cousins.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Dee Martin said...

Ah love the ring Trilogy - Walden is a man of taste - Legolas is one of my favorites as well. The elves in LOTR are just the way I would imagine them.

9:47 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Dee: The first two came in via Netflix. After we finished Two tonight, I kept expecting him to talk me into running to Blockbuster for the finale. We took a breather instead, chatting in the tent. Seems we're inside for tonight.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Legolas is my favorite, too, but I only do "head movies" on the Lord of the Rings. I didn't want to spoil my own imaginings of many years with something else worming its way in. Give me the books, in Dwarvish runes or High Elfen, it doesn't matter; just let me run my own cinema of the mind.

We did play the sound track in orchestra from the first of the trilogy, complete with our own vocalist in a hobbit cloak. Now that was more than all right. It didn't break up my private picture show.

(I can't watch Gone with the Wind, either, for the same reason. It doesn't matter how good Vivian Leigh was as Scarlett. But I do NOT have this problem in Chinese. Can you explain it to me, Murat?)

11:48 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Teresa: My cousin is the same way about LOTR, and he is not much of a reader at all. But, love LOTR he did, and his private cinema endures.

Levels of devotion? Were the two books in English read in a more passionate youth?

7:30 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Well of course they were. They were junior high and high school passions. My friends and I used to write letters to each other in dwarvish runes or elfen. I confess, I was a nerd.

I'm also thinking that despite my fluency, Chinese doesn't give me the same movie English does because it is not my native language.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Tammie Lee said...

sounds like perfect family time
memories that will be passed on to your sons children some day
and that trail, I love that it is draped with 'obligatory' ferns.

3:08 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Well, Ms Teresa, I'd say your first paragraph says it all. Runes and elfen? There you have it.

I'm struck about the issue of first language: not sure that's the deciding factor. Portuguese (my favorite of all the languages I've heard) and Italian are two languages I can hear and connect to, despite my utter lack of knowing them at all. As much as I love English and love to play with it, those two languages have me completely under their spell. Is it possible that, of your many languages, Chinese is not your favorite tonally?

3:50 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Good afternoon, Tammie: Always a deep healing time at the aguas grandes. And these local trails are such a green gift. I've yet to see a spring not draped in ferns.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Hmmmm. Well, Chinese is good for telling people off and for confounding people, but I think Spanish is the language of enchantment for me. Maybe there is something to that.

4:37 PM  
Blogger anno said...

Sigh... the scent of green and the promise of summer comes through even far to the north on this beautiful prose. Beautiful days; thanks for sharing them with us.

6:35 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Teresa: Gandalf and Scarlett (and Rhett) could certainly tell off a few folks, but for the most part, they were enchanters. So, maybe Spanish is the one for JRRT and MM. Chinese for crime novels?

7:53 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Good evening, Anno: Spring is full upon us. A string of gorgeous daze, all of us spellbound: NO ONE wants to go inside for nuthin'.

7:54 PM  
Blogger jsd said...

Sounds like bliss, and if-when I make it back to Tejas, perhaps we can walk a trail or two together.

6:46 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

jsd: Great trails, wonderful gift. Still haven't figured out what to do during cedar fever (I'm thinking stationary bike: this past winter the cedar fever was brutal any time I went out in it), and we'll see how the trails are during the dog days. Early mornings should still be good for the summer.

11:06 AM  

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