This morning I drove to Fredericksburg: a quaint, old German town in the Texas Hill Country. The abundance of spring rains have filled the land along the highways and back country roads with endless carpets of wildflowers. Prairie Angels, Texas Bluebonnets, Indian Paint, Mexican Hat and Evening Primrose are scattered along the roads and hillsides. Wildflowers blanket pastoral fields of sheep and goats, and beauty blooms among the prickly pear cactus. These earthbound bouquets signal rebirth and renewal, and they remind me of the spring my chemotherapy came to an end.
I LIKE TO THINK BABIES WERE CONCEIVED AND BORN HERE, AND WOMEN MADE FRESH TORTILLAS AND HUNG LAUNDRY…
Every day for a month, I willed myself to drive the 45 minutes from the city to where Eduardo and Miguel were hard at work, restoring the old ranch hand bunkhouse James and I named the Little House. During my drives the wildflowers filled me with an energy I didn’t have when I was in the city. Their blooms made me forget how tired my body was from breast cancer surgeries and chemotherapy. Seconds after I would leave the freeway and turn onto our Hill Country road, the traffic disappeared, and I was transported to another world.
Our narrow, two-lane road twists and turns skyward as it cuts through layers of limestone, warped by the forces of time and nature. I reveled in the Axis and the Whitetail deer, the Texas Longhorns and the daily progress on the neighbor’s new gate. James and I felt blessed to be temporary stewards of this land. We imagined the high ridges were where the Comanches had watched and waited on horseback for the stagecoach line below. You could almost see them swooping down the hillside to raid the settlers who’d made this beautiful country their home.
Everyday when I got to the ranch, Eduardo and Miguel were sanding and scraping away the peeling paint on my tiny 100-year-old farmhouse: Mexican colors like turquoise and pink on the walls of two small bedrooms and the navy blue on the old pine floors. I wondered about the ranch hand families who’d occupied our 484-square-foot house. The energy here feels like it’s always been a joyous home filled with love and sunshine and gentle breezes.
I like to think babies were conceived and born here, and women made fresh tortillas and hung laundry, while their men cleared cedar and raised cattle. Their lives were simple, but good, and I prayed we would be as fortunate. The promise of the life we would have here mended my soul. It gave me hope I was cancer free. Free to linger and laugh and give thanks for more springs.
This is the fifth spring I’ve lived in the Little House without James. Our Little House continues to nourish my soul and fill me with gratitude that I’m privileged to live here. Everywhere I look I still see James, and I will always feel a sense of our history, together with the Mexican ranch hand families who lived here before us. We’ve been shaded by the same Post Oaks trees that scatter shadows across the same tin roof. I love how its aged, a rust and yellow patina mingled with patches of the original silver.
Sometimes in the evening I take a glass of wine and sit on the patio and listen to the elks bugle on my neighbor’s ranch. I continue to take solace in this respite of calm. Like the spring after chemotherapy, I marvel in the new direction my life has taken. Once again, God had blessed me with another spring of rebirth and the hope that each of you will find solid footing on your journey as well.