On the long road into the ranch, there were thick, brilliant patches of bluebonnets by the side of the road. The day was colorless until I spotted those flowers. It made me wonder if I had missed more of them on my way down from Alpine, but I didn’t think I had. I’m always on the lookout for blooming things and any animals that cross my path or stand near it, or features on mountains I never noticed before—anything interesting—cowboys, for example.
When I stopped to check out the bluebonnets, I glanced to my right and there was West Corazon Peak staring down at me. It’s known to a select few as “Garcia Mountain.” For all the years we owned a “spread” below it, I studied that peak in every type of light, all kinds of weather, and even at night. I feel a deep intimacy with it that is hard to explain in less than a thousand words. And I possibly couldn’t explain it if I had ten thousand.
When I looked up, I said “hello there” in my head. I know that sounds weird, but the thought was there and my heart felt full, as if I were greeting family. Then, the sun peeked from behind a cloud and illuminated a rugged piece of my mountain’s side that I had never noticed before. It felt like a gift.
My friend doesn’t just live “on” the Ranch; she lives way the heck back in there at the heart of it. Her house is not but a few miles from the headquarters, and yet it seems another world away, even from that remote spot. Cell phones don’t work where she lives and she has no Internet service, so I’m forced out of electronic gadget-mindedness and into mindfulness.
Her set-up couldn’t be a better place for a writer. It’s comfortable, quiet, and with views so beautiful they take the breath away. I’d like to hide out there for a few months among those mountains, absorbing the scenery and describing the way it changes from moment to moment. I wonder how many columns and novels I could write if I weren’t constantly distracted by interruptions and compulsive email or Facebook-checking. And heaven forbid I should miss a text…
The front of my friend’s house faces the Chisos Mountains and the view is not obscured by anything. It’s right there in your face whenever you want to look, which for me is most of the time.
The back porch faces the Corazones, both of them, and her home is surrounded by other rugged mountains I can’t name. Oh, I could name them, but what I mean is that I don’t know what they’re really called.
As I pulled into her place, I saw that the Chisos were covered by clouds. The sun came out, but the wind picked up and seemed intent on blowing the cloud cover back and forth between the Corazones and the Chisos. One or the other range was illuminated but never both at the same time. I could’ve watched that show the rest of the day, but my friend insisted that I come inside and be sociable.
We talked a while and then I sat in my favorite recliner by a glass door that looks out at the vast Big Bend National Park. Its sheer size is almost incomprehensible. It isn’t just the Chisos that command attention. There’s Croton Peak, Slickrock Mountain, and Tule Mountain, to name but a few. Even if you can forget the mountains, there are miles of the Chihuahuan Desert with its infinite humps and bumps and canyons and arroyos. The clouds hung over all of it for a time and then they’d begin to move and the sun would spotlight one thing and then another. It was too amazing for mere words.
“Beth,” my friend said, “you’re in another world.”
No. The fabulous thing was that I was fully present in this one.