Wednesday, July 28, 2010


By (c) Russ Barnes. All rights reserved: text.
NOTE:  Today is my birthday, 2010, and I conclude the journals of my stay at Hickory Pass Ranch near Marble Falls, Texas.  The story follows and concludes:
By MID AUGUST,  I was nearing the end of my stay at Hickory Pass Ranch.  Back to my urban life –- not born again, but with an incremental difference. 
Sirius, the Big Dog star
On one of my last nights at the ranch, Jacquelyn and the three girls were staying in the Big House.  I heard them fire up three of their four-wheelers.  And one of the girls, the eleven-year-old, Ava, steered by the guesthouse to invite me out with them to see the annual August meteor shower.  Shooting stars over Texas skies.
I got on the back of the four-wheeler Ava was driving, and we followed everyone else down the ranch road.  Murphy ran back and forth between the vehicles, biting at the tires.  
Jacquelyn had brought along blankets and pillows and all five of us lay out beneath the Texas sky and watched the celestial extravaganza.  We identified constellations: Scorpius, Sagittarius, Aquilla, the Big Dipper pointing toward the North Star, Polaris. And of course there was Sirius, that star known in English as the Big Dog.  Well, we had him right there among us, Murphy, sniffing around and wondering what this camp-out was all about.
One of the girls said to me, "I think Murphy likes you better than he likes us."  I replied, " I don’t think so.  He seems really happy when you all come to the ranch." Her mother commented -- with wise diplomacy, "That’s true."
Sensing my downhearted feelings about leaving Murphy behind, Joe said to me, "Dogs are good people."
Next morning, Karen made a visit on my next to the last day at the ranch.  She sat on a couch in the guesthouse. Murph was stretched out beside me, tail wagging slowly while keeping one sleepy eye on me to make sure I didn’t make a move.  Karen had arrived for a last visit.  As she sat on the couch in the guesthouse, I patted Murphy on his flank and impulsively spoke to him, "My bud."  Karen tilted her head to the right.   And sighed.  And smiled a half understanding smile.

It is my last day.  All packed.  I’m back now in Austin at Karen and Joe’s.
I go to the Seminary of the Southwest two days in a row for two separate counsels which I need.  I hear the same message,  “Follow the spirit.”  Doesn’t sound like it, but it is practical advice.  Still have anxiety.  But I feel secure.
I wait to catch my plane back to Washington.  As I pack my things into Karen’s red Miata, Ken, my new friend, from across the way shouts across the street, “Goodbye, Russ.“  Joe is at work.  Karen drives me to the airport.  I take my two bags out of her car’s back storage space.  Karen hugs me.  Then I turn my back and walk away.  The rest is another story.
My gratitude to the Mouton family: Jacquelyn and David; Lia , Ava, and Maddie -- for their hospitality, generosity, humor, fun, parties, rocks, whimsicality, and for man’s best friend -- for a while -- Murphy, who was a challenge -- but I loved him.
My gratitude also to Karen Alexander and Joe Heidelmeier:  
Karen for her loyalty, her subtle penetrating and realistic intelligence, her drop-dead accurate advice, her true aesthetic values and sense, her beauty as a person, and her cool femininity.
And Joe for his stories, his masculine guidance, his friendship, his fun, the maturity of his understanding, his power as an outdoorsman, his humor, and for his astonishingly equipped old truck, Silver, of which I also became fond.

My many thanks also to Anne Tongren who has expertly edited these posts and without whose help I could have never come to the perceptions I have arrived at in this series of posts.

1 comment:

Janine Sanford said...

Love this story Russ - and the Quilts in the photo.