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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Big Bend Solo - Page 2

Written by Barbara Weddle
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Now, as I stand here, in a place I have never been, yet, strangely, seem to experience an uncanny knowledge of, trying to breathe it all in, I think of the thousands of people--Indian, white, Hispanic--slain on this vast, wild land.  I think of their struggles, their hardships.  I consider what may have driven them to settle in such a remote, harsh and even violent place.  I feel their steps as they cross the land.  I sit next to them atop the springboards of their buckboards, feel the grip of their hands on the reins of a team of burros.  I see them raise their hoes as they try to mine a living out of the unwieldy earth of their homesteads.  I consider my own reasons for being here--undoubtedly less altruistic, but just as forceful.  Gazing off at the mountains in the distance, infinite and undying, here long before my time or my ancestors’ time, the incredibly beautiful, wide-open spaces rolling away from them, I feel at peace.  I am, for the moment, where I was always meant to be.        

A vehicle, first appearing as a speck on the horizon, approaches and then drives on past.  The driver, a tanned, amiable looking man, smiles and nods politely from the window of a white utility truck.  The knowledge that I am somewhere where no one knows I am, my cell phone reception spotty at best, suddenly occurs to me.  What if my car breaks down?  What if I meet an ax murderer?  I picture my sons claiming my sun-bleached bones somewhere, grumbling (or sobbing) among themselves about their foolish, renegade mother, who in a moment of sheer madness ran off to a desert.

But there is something so rejuvenating, something so restorative, something so infinitive in the vast blue skies over the distant ranges, the pristine, incredibly beautiful wide-open spaces, rolling hills and steep canyons that it defies rational thought and I am thankful I am here despite the dangers.

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Remembering that I am prone to heat stroke, I decide to only drive as far as the main ranger station 50 miles away.  I will not see the mighty Rio Grande or the deep canyons carved by it.  I will not hike any of the trails; not this trip.  Defying rational thought by entering this remote area alone is one thing; inviting disaster by being stranded on some high country dirt road in three-digit heat is quite another.  I splash water over my face again.  The soles of my feet burn.  The smell of alkali dust and cow dung hang in the air.  In the morning, I will drive back to Houston.  Two days later I will arrive home, back to the overscheduled, fast-paced world I was born into.  But for now I am here.  In the West.  The Big Bend.  I recall again the words of W. Somerset Maugham: “Here is the home he (I) sought . . . . Here at last he (I) finds rest.”

(c)Barbara Weddle

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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