The images flickering past in the header as you reload the pages are extracts from some of the many images I grabbed on our recent visit to Austin, Texas. Sure, Austin is the capital of Texas, and Texas is big enough to be a country in its own right. Some might think it’s big enough to be a world in its own right, but I’m not so sure about that.
One evening Trevor took Marica and I down to the lake. It was one of those sultry evenings – you know the kind – when you want to just do stuff, but not so much as though you’ll waste any energy on doing it, because it’s too damn hot. I didn’t think it was too hot, however, I was keen to breathe some night air. It was about the right temperature to be laying back and taking another sip of your mint julep or margarita. Or an icy beer, with about three wedges of lime. We were have a great time fooling around on the wharf, taking photos, dreaming dreams, telling stories, laughing, and watching the sunset.
An elderly man approached me – he would’ve made a great stand-in for Colonel Sanders – although not as heavily set. His cheeks had the transparency of age – skin that’s known the touch of a razor for probably 50 or 60 or more years, and his eyes were blue and sharp. He reminded me of the old man in Whitman’s, I Sing the Body Electric, from Leaves of Grass.
He was a little shy, a little nervous, and then, “What part of Texas are you from?”
I was highly entertained, and I loved the approach. Apparently all the world was Texas, (or wants to be). I grinned. “We’re all from the south, in fact, the deep south.”
His eyebrows raised. I guess my accent was not immediately obvious as Texan, even from the deep south. “We’re from New Zealand, and Trevor – he’s originally from South Africa – but he lives here now.”
The old man smiled, happy to be dealing with fellow Texans, even those from the very deep south. He proceed to tell me stories about how this wharf was something he’d managed to get made through his negotiation skills in his younger days when he worked as an attorney. How his family had paddle wheel boats on the lake, how his mother had taught countless children how to swim in the lake during World War II, and how, as a young man, he used to swim across to a spot on the other side of the lake for a spot of lunch, and then swim back. I though his stories were wonderful – it’s so nice to meet someone who has spent their entire life in a place, and listen to them telling of the changes and how their lives have been shaped by their environment, and how they’ve responded.
It would’ve been nice if time had stretched longer – his phone rang – “This’ll be my spouse looking for me…but I like to come down here to see my wharf…” He spoke briefly and ended the call. We shook hands and he left. I would’ve liked to capture his story on tape – he was modest and yet clearly his accomplishments were many, and his pride and satisfaction with his achievements seemed well founded.
The sun had all but set – just a few faint pinkish clouds. We left the ducks and the other waterbirds to enjoy the night in peace.