Being a novel, all characters, events, dialogue and representations are fictional ... and in no way are meant to represent any real or living persons or events... except the few annual events that are used to move me through time. The opinions expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of my author. And the story is copyrighted, by my author of course. Oh, and from time to time I may include some real time events to keep the blog more authentic. Comments and suggestions will be appreciated and seriously considered as the story moves along.

If you are just joining us, start with the Prologue and Chapter One on March 1, 2011, in the Archives.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 12, Chapter 3

        With hugs and tears and more hugs, I said my goodbyes last night at Ben’s house over dinner. Sharon arrived yesterday morning, so joined us for dinner. Such horrific pictures of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We prayed for the people of the devastated areas and are still hoping the nuclear power plants can be contained. 
An earlier call to Michael in Portland put to rest any fears for their safety. They are miles from the Oregon coast and high up on a peninsula above the Columbia River where it meets the Willamette River.  Hard to image the power of an earthquake that can send waves clear across the Pacific. Maybe my neighbor is right, and we are in the end times? 
At any rate, we had a tearful goodbye. I’m not sure the granddaughters understand yet how far away I will be. I will miss them terribly.
We headed out pretty early this morning, right after the moving van took off. It’s scheduled to arrive in Lubbock on Monday. Sharon and I will make the trip in one day. 
   It took us less than an hour to get to the western edges of Fort Worth on Interstate 20, where civilization disappears in favor of rolling hills and ranch land. It’s as if the sky becomes clearer. Is this the way the pioneers had seen it?except for the fences and billboards blighting the landscape, of course. But still, as I looked out across the massive fields of bluebonnets and wildflowers, I thought it had been far too long since I’d driven outside city limits. Enjoying it, I wondered why. 
   Passing through the settlement of Weatherford a half-hour later, we started a gradual climb to higher elevations, driving close to small towns and gentle hills, always up and almost due west.    
   Just before Abilene, the halfway point, a light rain enveloped us in a cloud of dreary weather, and we stopped to top off the tank and stretch our legs. I was disappointed I couldn’t see much of the passing countryside through the gloom. It’s been almost twenty years since I’ve driven instead of flown to Lubbock, and I’d hoped to see a few familiar landmarks. If the rain kept up, it would be a less exciting drive. At least Sharon was here to keep me company.
   We made a quick trip inside a small travel station to use the facilities and purchase snacks and sodas. Sharon took the wheel, offering to share her peanut butter cheese crackers with the stipulation I would share my corn nuts. 
Why do corn nuts only taste that good on the road? Jim brought a large bag home one day years ago and it just sat on the shelf. Yet when we travel, we fight over every last kernel. 
We sipped ice-cold Dr Peppers and continued our journey. 
   As rain clouds cleared near Sweetwater half an hour later, I scanned the landscape, noticing fairly flat farm and ranch land to the north on my right, with huge fluffy clouds rolling across the sky as far as I could see.
“Look, Phelps,” I said, delighted at the late-morning sun sparkling off the puffs of white. “It looks like Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting Sky Above the Clouds*—only upside down.” 
  “If you say so, Maggie,” Sharon said. I could tell she was desperately trying to recall the painting. She was an engineering major, I knew, not an art lover like our friend Carol, who would undoubtedly be familiar with both painting and painter. 
   Looking ahead and to my left to see if the clouds continued in all directions, I was struck by the dark ridge of a long, low massive plateau to the south, extending west, parallel to the highway. Noticing movement on the ridge of the mesa, I squinted. “What’re those things moving out there on the hills?”
Sharon glanced over, then focused back on the road. “Wind turbines. The newest form of energy.” “There sure are a bunch of them,” I said frowning, looking west and noticing dozens of them as a far as I could see. “When did those go up?”
“A few years ago. But wait a couple of minutes because just up the road, on the other side of Sweetwater, you’ll be amazed.”
Sure enough, as we crested a large hill several miles further west, I was indeed amazed, and when a few miles after that we turned north onto Highway 84, I was dumbfounded. Dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of the enormous white wind turbines dotted the landscape in every direction. They were nothing more than tall tapered metal poles seemingly growing straight up out of cement ground-collars, with a motor at the top sporting three long, thin, slightly twisted blades, most of them turning. At least they looked twisted, from my perspective. I squinted to look closer. Maybe they were just tapered, but they did come to a smaller curved point.    
   We’d reached the eastern edge of the plains of West Texas, and we could see the turning giants for miles all around us, some less than fifty yards from the highway. They were irregularly spaced, often less than a tenth of a mile apart. I uncovered the Volvo’s sunroof—bad idea since it had recently rained and we got liberally dosed—and craned my neck to see the tops of the nearby blades as they spun in the wind seemingly directly above the car.
   “Wow,” was the only thing I could think of. We were passing to the east of the small town of Roscoe. 
   Sharon said, “Yeah, they’ve put up thousands of these things out here in the past few years. Wind farms, they call them. We’re in the middle of the Roscoe Wind Farm, the largest in the country, I think. I hate them because they’re so huge and yet I love them because they’re better for the world than burning coal or foreign oil or using nuclear energy.”
   “How big are they? They seem to block out the sky in some places,” I asked as I continued to stare at a scene that harkened to a science-fiction landscape. 
   “Yeah, blocking out the sky in West Texas is quite a feat, don’t you think? I remember reading where they’re anywhere from 200 to 300 feet tall. The blades, then, I would guess about 100 feet long. And the bases, let me think, I once heard that it would take almost 30 people standing shoulder to shoulder to circle the base of one — no, maybe it’s 30 children or about 25 adults? I don’t remember. Anyway, huge suckers, that’s for sure.”
  “Guess they finally found a way to harvest the crazy wind out here,” I said.     
   Sharon nodded, “I understand they’re popping up in lots of states across the country, and farmers and landowners are making good money off of them. California has a good share of them, too ... especially out by Palm Springs. Seems they work best where there’s a big change in elevation, like up on the mesas, or here around the caprock.”
   “I assume it’s a crop that doesn't need much tending? No irrigation, no annual spring plowing and fertilizing. But white? Or are they light gray? Look at how they seem to change from light to dark gray as the clouds pass over,” I said, my artistic sensibilities kicking in. “Somehow, I doubt O’Keefe’s painting would be quite as powerful if she’d put all these wind machines in it, would it?”
   “If you say so, Maggie.”
   “White,” I said as I shook my head. “Why didn’t they try for a nice light blue or something to match better with the sky? They really should have made them so they could change colors to blend in better, like chameleons.”
   Sharon laughed. “Oh, yeah. Deep blue for nice spring days, yellow and gold for sunsets, and black for night. And I guess sand-colored for the occasional dust storm? But they do sort of disappear in the rain. Bet they’re definitely invisible during snow storms, not that we have more than one of those a year out here. Say, maybe the engineering department could invent some type of a chameleon skin for these things? Might make millions! Boost the endowment fund!”
    “Might,” I said, smiling at the thought. “Are there many of them in Lubbock?"
   “Chameleons?” Sharon asked tongue in cheek. 
   “No, silly, wind turbines.”
“Not a lot. We must be too high up on the Caprock or something. They don’t blot the landscape like here. I think there are some at the southeast edge of town near a cotton mill, though, and I know there’s one on campus out at the Tech Wind Museum. Don’t know if the museum is actually pulling power from that one, but it turns when the wind blows, so probably. We’ll have to go check it out once you’re settled.”
   “Wind  museum? I don’t remember hearing about that. What’s it like?”
  “Lots and lots of windmills inside and out. Not a bad museum and great for school field trips, especially for the little ones. Kids love the windmills. It’s out next to the Ranching Heritage Museum, northwest corner of campus, just across from University Medical Center. 
   “Winston, the director, Dr. Winston Whitaker, is an interesting man. Quite a character, although charming and extremely good at getting funding for his pet project. Used to be an engineering professor in my department but spends all his time now as the curator, director and fundraiser for the museum. No, I think he may still teach one class — on the new wind energy, in fact — but out at the museum. He’s got a great collection of the history of windmills and such. Biggest in the nation, I think.”
   “Love to see it. I’ve a feeling there’ll be lots of new things in town we’ll have to check out. When I’ve visited before, or for the interviews, there never seemed to be enough time to do anything but catch up on our lives. I haven’t even been to the Buddy Holly museum.”
   “Disgraceful, and you call yourself a Texas Tech Red Raider. Buddy’s the king of Lubbock! You have to see his shrine,” Sharon grinned. “I’ll make a long list. It’ll be fun. And you’re gonna absolutely LOVE it at Tech. I guarantee it."
   I was a little skeptical. “As much as you love it, right Phelps? 
   Sharon nodded but then took her turn looking skeptical. “Well, maybe not quite as much since I Am The Ultimate Red Raider!” That made me laugh heartily, recognizing my friend’s mantra from our college days.   
   We spent the next several miles discussing Americans’ love of their universities, and why some people in their 70s—seems like mostly men—still dress up in school colors, no matter how garish, to passionately root for the school they graduated from 50 years before. 
What inspires this devotion/fanaticism? Is it because college is where their independence was born? For the vast majority of students, campuses are the first place they become truly separate entities from their parents ... where they get the first glimpse into who they really are and whether they can handle the world on their own. A true coming of age. 
   Sharon called it the true “pushing out of the nest.” Only with humans, Americans in particular, it’s a gradual push. “We could return home on holidays, and during the summers, but it really was where we got our wings to fly. Oh, dear, there I go using bird metaphors again. Sorry, old habits are hard to break.”
  I laughed at the old inside joke, but my friend just wrinkled her nose and went on with the discussion. “No more mommy and daddy taking care of us. I think that’s what keeps a lot of people loyal to their alma maters.”
   I was in agreement. And for many, I thought, it’s also because the best times of their lives were had during those years. Unencumbered by the full responsibilities of adulthood, many privileges of being older are enjoyed. Whatever it was that made university life so magical, I am ready to embrace it again, though I don’t think nearly to the extent Sharon does.
   Flashbacks of our dorm suite, entirely in Texas Tech colors of red and black at Sharon’s insistence, made me wince. “You even had that life-sized ‘Raider Red’ cardboard cutout in our room,” I laughed. “Whatever possessed you to ask Carol to make one for us?”
“Old Red? He was great, wasn’t he? Carol was always so artsy-craftsy, even though her major was pre-law. Should’ve had her make Red out of plywood instead of cardboard so he’d still be around! He was a great guy-magnet at pep rallies and outside the dorm for homecoming. That’s how I met Gerald,” she said with a heavy sigh. 
   “Ah, Gerald. Whatever happened to Gerald?” I asked, conjuring up a vague vision of a young, handsome boy with curly blonde hair.
   “Not a clue, but he sure could kiss. Remember when he was kidnapped by those freshmen from Carpenter Hall?”
   “Gerald was kidnapped?”
   “No, silly. Raider Red was kidnapped!”
“Oh, right! I remember now. What was the ransom demand? Dates or phone numbers or something?”
“Dates, I think. Just freshmen guys wanting to meet freshmen girls. Luckily, Carol and I stole him back before we had to pay up. Why didn’t you go with us that night?”
   “Sneak out after hours? My dad would have grounded me for life! I liked letting you two be the adventurous ones. I’m still content to live through you guys and hear your stories every February. Speaking of which, is Carol coming to Texas anytime soon to make up for missing this February?”
“No, I think she and Robert are booked up for the rest of the year. They both work too hard. But we’ll definitely plan for next winter. This year, I’m just thrilled to have you here with me. It’s like we’ll have a lifelong girls’ weekend!” 
   I smiled at my fun-loving, adventure-taking friend, envying as much as ever her ability to take risks and enjoy life wherever and whenever. 
   “Do you really still love Tech the same way we did all those years ago?” I asked.
    Nodding without hesitation, Sharon said in a serious tone, “Back then we knew it from a student perspective, and each day was a new adventure. Now, working in the engineering department, I can see things from an adult perspective — from a faculty perspective — and it’s still a new adventure all the time. Maybe not every day, but often enough to keep it interesting.” 
   “I'm glad to hear you say that. I thought you just liked the football games, even when they don’t win the conference.”
   “Win the conference? Are you kidding? With Texas and Oklahoma? Except wasn’t Texas a bust this year?! Even with Coach Tubberville at Tech, I’m not sure we’ll ever win the conference. But I love everything at Tech, not just football. There’s basketball, baseball, the theater productions, the music performances — wait ’till you hear Doug’s jazz band this year — and the amazing things we’re doing in engineering. I like seeing the students get turned on to the same things that turned us on back then I guess.”
  “You were mainly turned on by boys, if I remember right,” I teased. 
  Sharon ignored me and continued,“Wait ’til I give you the grand tour of our labs, and ...”
   “Ok, OK. I get that you love it. But I still have trouble seeing you in Engineering — it’s such a conventional discipline and you are so unconventional, my ... Look out!” I shouted as I reached for the dashboard, instinctively pushing my right foot hard to the floor. 
  Sharon braked nimbly, swerving onto the shoulder, then smiled smugly as she eased back into the right lane, having easily avoided the deer that had run into our path. I turned around in my seat, watching the large frightened doe run across the grassy median straight into the path of a southbound car.
   “Look out!” I shouted again.  “He’s gonna hit the deer! Oh, God. STOP! STOP!” Sharon reacted this time by slamming her foot on the brake. I watched in horror as the accident unfolded. The deer was thrown to the far side of the road, and the black car spun completely around and disappeared. 
    Sharon immediately stopped the Volvo. Scanning quickly for other vehicles, and with me urging her to “Go! GO!,” she backed up along the shoulder as fast as she could until we were directly opposite the deer on the nearly deserted road. 
   Sharon grabbed her cell phone as I jumped out and raced across the highway. Looking for landmarks to describe our location to the highway patrol, Sharon finally spotted a mile marker and called 911.     
When I reached the dead deer, I looked frantically for the car, then saw tire tracks further down the road and hurriedly followed them to the edge of a narrow ravine. There, about 15 feet down, the rolling car had come to a stop in the opposite direction, leaning against the far embankment, passenger side up, right wheels spinning silently in the air. 
   “It’s down here!” I yelled back to Sharon who was trying to flag down a southbound car. An older model blue Ford saw the waving figure and began to slow, but as Sharon beckoned them over, the two elderly women just rubbernecked and then sped up again. Sharon shook her head in disgust as she ran to the edge of the ravine. I made my way down to the small SUV. 
   Thankfully, my traveling attire was jeans and good walking shoes, so I had no qualms about climbing down— or rather slipping and sliding down— the muddy slope. The smell of gasoline was faint, and I noticed the shallow pool of water at the bottom from the recent rain was slightly tainted with the slick substance. However, the engine was quiet, so I didn’t think there was much chance of a fire or explosion. The only sound was a swoosh, swoosh, swoosh that I realized was a wind turbine standing some 40 yards away and towering above my head.    
   Moving quickly around to the front of the car, I could see one person through the cracked windshield, the driver still in his seat belt, slumped against the left window, deflated air bag resting against his chest. His eyes were closed. 
   “Please, God, don’t let him be dead. Please God!” I prayed out loud as I moved in closer to the front windshield, my mind assessing the problem. The communications profession calls for me to find the facts, then make a judgement based solely on that knowledge. Fact one: he appeared unconscious in an unknown condition. Fact two: I thought help was on the way, but how long it would take wasn’t certain. Fact three: I couldn’t see any way Sharon and I could move him by ourselves. And if we didn’t know his condition, I knew we shouldn’t be moving him. 
   Was he alone? I climbed the opposite side of the ravine to get above the car and then peered into the back passenger window finding no one else. It was then I noticed the air bag moving slightly, being pushed by his chest. He was still alive, thank God, but for how long?
The window was halfway down, so I knew he’d be able to hear me. “Hello? Are you awake?” I called out. “We’ve called for help. Hello?” I thought he moved a little and was rewarded with a groan. The young man’s eyes fluttered but closed again with another moan.
“Phelps!” I yelled up the embankment. Sharon’s head appeared. “There’s just the one that I can see and he’s alive but hurt. Get that wool blanket from the back of the car ... it’s wrapped around the big mirror, and throw it down to me. How soon before they get here?” 
  “Ten minutes,” she yelled back down. “They’re sending a rescue squad and ambulance. I’ll bring the car over here!” She disappeared and I was once again alone with the unconscious young man. I guessed he was in his early 20’s, probably a Tech student, judging by his red “Wreck ’Em Tech” T-shirt and the jumble of books in the back seat. Heading home for spring break? 
He was thin and wiry, with dark brown skin and closely cropped tight curly black hair. Probably tall, judging by the length of the one arm and one leg I could see. I couldn’t see any rips in his clothes, thank goodness, nor was any blood visible. Sending up another prayer for him, I moved back down the ravine to squeeze between the embankment and the car hood, kneeling at the front of the windshield, directly in front of him.
   Tapping on it, I called to him again through the cracked glass, telling him again help was on the way. His eyes fluttered, and he moaned a second time. Quickly I said loudly, “Don’t try to move. You’ve been in an accident but help’s coming.”
  He opened one eye, then the other, slowly taking in his surroundings, and I repeated my command not to move. He saw me and smiled weakly, and I sighed in relief.
“Hey, son. You’ve been in a car accident and help is on the way. It’s really best if you don’t try to move. Do you hurt anywhere?”
Moving his eyes around again, he said weakly, “My head, my left arm. I think that’s all.”
   “You’re alone, right? No other passengers?” I asked to be sure I hadn’t missed someone.
  “Alone? Yes. What happened?”
   “A deer. We missed it on the other side of the road and it ran right into you — or you into it —and you ended up down here. You’re in a ditch, but we’ll get you out. Don’t worry. Just be really still.”
   Sharon appeared overhead again and called down, “Maggie? I moved the car to this side. Here’s the blanket. Should I come down?”
“No. We’re fine. There’s only one guy and he’s awake. You need to flag down the troopers. Throw the blanket to me.” I caught it and moved part of the way back up the ravine to the side – now the top of the car – and made my way to the passenger’s door. Pulling on the handle as I squatted on the embankment, I was amazed it opened. Carefully moving it up and out of the way, I tried not to kick dirt inside on the young man.  
   “Don’t move now, remember? Not even your head. I’m going to put this over you to keep you from getting chilled. You’re not allergic to wool, are you?”  
   “No — allergic to deer,” he said in a rich deep voice that seemed a little stronger than just  a minute ago. 
I smiled, stretching herself out on my stomach across the passenger side second door, reaching in and laying the open wool blanket across him, covering as much as I could, letting it drape over his chest. In doing so, I could see his left arm seemed to be at an odd angle, probably broken. I wished the ambulance would hurry. I could just reach his right shoulder, and knowing nurses who swore a human touch could often heal better than any medicine, I placed my hand there and gave him a gentle squeeze, eliciting a smile. 
   Climbing back down to again wedge myself next to the windshield, I saw his eyes were closed again. “Are you still with me? What’s your name?”
“Still with you, Ma’am. Thanks for the blanket. Josh. I’m Josh,” he said refocusing on my face.
   “Good, Josh. How ya’ doing?”
   “Okay, I guess. How’s the deer?”
  “Dead, I’m afraid.”
   “Too bad I don’t like venison,” he said, his dark brown eyes smiling in spite of his precarious circumstances and obvious pain. 
   I smiled, too and then cocked my head, listening to what I thought was a distant siren. Thank you, God. Thank you for keeping him alive.   
  Thinking it best to distract him and keep him awake, I asked questions. He’s a Tech student, a junior, majoring in pre-med, heading home to Sweetwater for Spring Break. “Do you want me to call your parents?” I asked, thinking if it were one my sons in the bottom of a ditch, I’d want to know. 
   “Sure, but my dad’s gonna be pissed. Just finished paying for my car. But sure.”
  By now, Sharon had succeeded in flagging down another car — a man in his thirties was climbing down the side of the steep ditch to see how he could help. I borrowed his cell phone and asked him to look for the easiest way for paramedics to access the scene. I reached Josh’s dad who was thankful to hear his son was awake and joking — he would come as quickly as he could. He wasn’t far away. He’d call his wife when he got there, as she was “prone to worry.” 
  Another good Samaritan arrived and agreed with me the best course of action was for Josh to remain still and awake. So I continued kneeling by the windshield — despite the cramping in my legs — talking to the young man about Tech and life and his family until the sirens grew louder, signaling arrival of the rescue team and ambulance up above. 
   One by one, rescuers came down the ravine, the scene quickly swarming with professionals. I finally pulled herself up and moved away so they could work. My parting words to Josh were that he’d be fine, now.
   After hearing paramedics confirm my prediction, I was helped back up to the side of the road. I returned the stranger’s phone with thanks. 
Sharon had given her statement to the Texas Highway patrolman, who tipped his hat and said, “Thanks, Ma’am. We might never have seen him down yonder if ya’ll hadn’t a been here. We appreciate your help. Sorry about the mud,” he said looking at my filthy jeans and shoes. “You can go on along now, if ya’ll want.” 
   He glanced past us at a late-model Lexus speeding our way. Moving across the median as Sharon had done, it stopped behind the ambulance, and an older version of Josh jumped out, walking quickly toward the patrolman.
   Seeing no reason to stay since Josh’s dad had arrived and the young man was in good hands, Sharon and I turned away and climbed back into our car. Making a u-turn at the nearest crossover, we resumed their journey northwest to Lubbock, having lost less than an hour because of the errant, and now dead, deer. 

   A few miles down the road Sharon must have noticed I was twirling my salt and pepper shoulder-length hair in and out through my fingers. She knew I only did that when I was upset. Sharon looked back at the road and said, “You okay, Maggie?”
   “Me? Sure, I’m fine. Just thinking, that’s all.”
“About Jim? His accident?” she asked gently.
“Hard not to. Just wish someone had been there for him at the end.” 
   “They said they thought he died instantly, Mags,” Sharon said tentatively.
   “I know, but still. Anyway, I’m glad we were there today. And I’m thankful Josh had his seatbelt on. That and the air bag probably saved him.”
   Sharon said, “He’s one blessed kid. Did you get his full name?”
   “No, just Josh. Guess it was lucky we were there to see it happen. Also lucky thing for us you missed the deer.” A twinge of guilt hit me though. If we had hit it, Josh wouldn’t have. A few seconds could make a huge difference. If Jim had been a few seconds earlier or later that day... I wouldn’t think about that now. I took a deep breath. “Nice driving there, Phelps.”
  “Thanks, but if you drive outside city limits often enough in West Texas, you get used to watching for them. Deer and armadillos, skunks and coyotes and tumbleweeds. Even wild feral pigs cross this road sometimes. I once saw a whole herd of those huge things next to the shoulder. Dodging them is definitely a learned art. And thankfully there’s normally not much traffic on this road. Just critters. But I’ve had to swerve around them now and then, just like today. Now, what were we saying before all the excitement?”

  “Well, let me think. I was saying I have trouble seeing you teaching engineering and being so unconventional, that’s all.” I said.
   “Oh, yeah. That’s right. But as I tell my students over and over, engineering is a creative science.”
“Right. You know about  Jansen ... Theo Jansen?”
“I don’t think so,” Sharon said.
“Sure you do. He’s the kinetic art guy, who said, ‘The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.’ “
“Oh, yeah. Is he the one who does those huge pieces that move along the beaches?”** “One in the same.”
“Yeah, I like his work. And I agree, then, with what you said he said. We engineers find solutions to the world’s problems, and you have to be creative to do that.”
“I guess you’re both unconventional and creative, then,” I said. “The most accepted vision of an engineer is still a middle-aged white male with thick glasses, white short-sleeved shirt and pocket protector. Like George McFly in ‘Back to the Future.’ ” I reached over and patted Sharon’s spiked and streaked hair do. “You certainly don’t fit that image!”
“Well, I would hope not. And where my hair is concerned, I have always been creative. And so were you, once upon a time ... well, not about your hair, but other things for sure. One thing I told Doug we’re gonna do is get you back to your creative, idiosyncratic ... is that a word? ... back to your eclectic old self. I know you and Jim were happy, but a lawyer’s wife? Formal dinner parties for clients? I can’t imagine it.”
   “Well, imagine it,” I said, laughing while trying to wipe some of the mud off my hands. “We even had the Bishop over for dinner regularly.”
   “The Bishop? Woo, woo, Maggie. We’ve got a lot of serious loosening up to do. We’d better start by making our first stop at you-know-where for re-indoctrination.” 
   “You-know-where? Where?” I asked with a puzzled expression.
   “Wow. It’s definitely been way too long since you’ve been out here for fun — you’ll see. And now you’re here to stay! Yippee!” she cried at the top of her lungs with both hands off the wheel and up in the air. I covered one ear, reaching to steer the car from the passenger side, but smiled just as enthusiastically.

We continued heading northwest. I noted the dwindling number of wind turbines, except for what seemed to be one noble last stand, high up on a large plateau northwest of the small town of Snyder. I counted close to 50 of the giants up there, away from the highway’s surrounding craggy terrain. 
   Working our way up the Caprock that would take us to the High Plains at the southern end of the Texas panhandle, we both took more care to scan the sides of the highway for sudden movements, but nothing further crossed our path except an occasional tumbleweed. We’d been steadily climbing as we moved across the state, but here the change in elevation was more dramatic as we traversed the rugged country up to Llano Estacado, the “staked plains.” Mesas and buttes rose on either side of the road, with dry gulches, ravines, scrub brush, the occasional cactus, and craggy boulders dotting the red earth.
   As we drove through the tiny town of Post, named for the breakfast cereal king C.W. Post, the town’s founder, I knew we were close to the end of our journey, but couldn’t resist pulling over at the state historical marker.
“Why are we stopping?” Sharon asked. I was driving after our stop in Snyder where I changed out of my muddy clothes.
  “Just wanted to read about the famous Mr. Post, that’s all.” I read it aloud to my skeptical passenger. Proudly proclaiming that Mr. Post established the town in 1907 as a utopian colonizing venture, the text heralded his purchase of 200,000 acres to establish the Double U ranch, building and selling houses, a hotel, textile plant and cotton gin, planting trees along every street, and prohibiting alcohol and brothels.
“No booze or brothels?” Sharon deadpanned. “No wonder the utopia failed.” 
I’ll finish up our journey for you on Monday night. 
*Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sky Above the Clouds 1962-1963 can be found on the web. Here’s one place: 
I’m not recommending you buy it, but it’s the only place I could find a decent sized photo! I believe it’s her first of the series, and singular in its beauty. At least in my opinion. 
Check out this one of the series at the Art Institute of Chicago’s site:  A little too stylized? 
**You can find Theo Jansen’s kinetic sculptures at 
Fascinating creations. 

No comments:

Post a Comment