I’d brought along a notebook and I set it on the table next to my favorite chair as if nobody would notice. A kitty sat on it immediately, looked down with disapproval, and then stretched out on top of it. Cats have no appreciation of writing things down. They live in the moment and when that one is over, another takes its place. Why make a note of it?
My friend and I chatted while I stole glances at the clouds covering and then revealing various landmarks in the national park. They looked like fluffy cotton balls at times and at other times they moved like a wall of water, drowning what lay in their path. Something would be there and then it was gone. Sometimes they dripped over peaks and rocky formations like fluffy white frosting sliding down the sides of a cake.
We talked, drank coffee, and played with the cats. I should say they deigned to let us pet them. Then we decided that, since it was late afternoon, we should take a drive to pick up a dog that had gone to a friend’s house and not returned.
As we headed away from the national park goings on, a fire smoldered behind the Corazon Peaks. Those mountains turned purple, then deep red-brown; it was eye-popping to see them against the blazing sky. My heart rate sped up. I started to say something but the scene spoke for itself.
We made a turn onto the main Terlingua Ranch road, headed past and away from the Corazones. Immediately there were purple peaks showcased in the distance. We gaped at each other.
“What mountains are those?” we asked at the same time. Neither of us had seen them before. Of course we had, but we’d never seen them as they were in that moment—velvety purple and commanding the stage. The next day in the light of full sun, we realized they were the buttes and rugged formations on the other side of Highway 118. They always seemed so far away. But on that magical evening they were close enough to take your breath. I can’t explain it; I can only tell you what I saw.
We turned in to our friend’s place as darkness fell and the purple range faded away into dusky oblivion, as if it had never existed.
When we headed home later, my friend blurted, “Oh my God, we forgot the dog!” She swung her big truck around in the dirt road, taking advantage of a cut-out left by the road grader. We didn’t quite make it. The truck was stuck. There are two things you need to know: her truck has no reverse gear, and it’s a huge vehicle that weighs 4,400 pounds. “Well, crap,” she exclaimed.
After a few seconds of staring ahead in frustration, she opened the door. “I’ll just have to push it out.”
Push it? She’s not young, large, or built like The Incredible Hulk. The truck outweighs her by thousands of pounds plus three hundred or so. True, but there she was, leaning into the front of it, pushing as hard as she could. Do I need to say that it didn’t budge?
She yelled, “You’ll have to get out.”
Really? Did she think my weight was what was holding up progress? I pretended outrage but then I offered to help. She waved me away with, “I got this.” Yeah, right. I figured we’d be there the rest of the night.
I stood gawking at the starry extravaganza going on above Terlingua Ranch and wondering where all the big, strong men are when you need them. The words from an old Eagles song came to mind. “On a dark desert highway, with the wind in my hair…” But we weren’t on a highway or even close to one.
My friend was grunting and panting, and then believe it or not, the truck started listing from front to back. I stared in awe as it rocked harder and harder and then lurched back a few feet. It wasn’t far, but it was enough to allow us to get out.
Wonder Woman was dusty, sweaty, and out of breath, but she flexed her biceps and grinned. Then we laughed until we hurt.
Never let it be said that a small, determined old woman can’t make a giant thing move when she needs it to. We celebrated her triumph all the way home. Until we realized we still hadn’t gotten the dog.