Monday, June 8, 2009

Wisdom from the Texas Hill Country

I am a country kind of guy that due to circumstances beyond my control is stuck in the big city for a few more years. I long to get back to a simpler life and a more common sense kind of living. I often think that maybe the whole country should try to go back to a simpler more common sense kind of life and make sure things are taken care of at home before we start looking elsewhere. I have an email friend that lives right smack dab in the middle of some of the best country in Texas along with some of the best food ever invented. Most of those country people are good solid hard workers and are a shining example to the rest of the USA. The people there have faults just like the rest of us but those that are really from that part of Texas have a strong work ethic and take care of themselves and their own.

Here is a small picture into that world from my friend.
Enjoy your day with Paul, Wild Ed

The truck from Dunn's Fish Farm, in Fittstown, Oklahoma, stopped in Llano on Monday. The downturn in the economy doesn't seem to have deterred the locals from restocking ponds and tanks. I waited an hour and a half to get my small order filled. One other "one ponder" and I were at the end of the line. We have a social hierarchy in Llano County, and "one ponders" are at the bottom.

The "one ponder" with me was getting fish for his kids to catch. Grandparents were restocking for grand kids benefit. Others were restocking for the benefit of family and friends. Others for business associates. The number restocking only for private benefit was small.

I raced home with a hundred, 6" to 8" catfish and a pound of minnows. As best I can tell, I only lost one minnow.

Most men hereabouts don't have beards. One thing about guys with beards is pretty sure--if the beard is well-trimmed, the guy has a girl, if it ain't, he don't.

I have a beard. Maybe only for a clue to the answer to the password question about my mother's maiden name. Whatever the reason, me and my beard get along well. That could be because I live a pretty mirror less life and we don't have to look at each other that much. Kind of like an older couple. Age has a way of giving women the eye contact they always said they wanted when they were young.

Most men try a beard on once or twice. Most of these are never really comfortable with their beards. Kind of like having a beautiful woman, hard to relax and just enjoy what one has been given. It is like these guys are expecting trouble from their beards, and I do believe that a beard can live up to one's expectations. They say it is hot or scratchy and off it goes. They just need to get used to each other, kind of like a life partner. The same Creator that gives a guy a beard, gives a beard a guy. Seems like a shame to never comes to terms with each other.

I do get a trim once a month, whenever possible. That is mostly for my mother, aunts, female neighbors and work associates. Just as guys are a little uncomfortable with up-close conversation with well-breasted women; women are a little uncomfortable with up-close conversation with a guy that looks like a caveman. Maybe they think I will hit them over the head and drag them off to my cave. (To be honest, I've thought about it once or twice. Things were so simple in the old days.)

Gabe and Link down at the barbershop throw in the beard trim with the haircut, even though it adds five to ten minutes to the cut. Since my hair has started getting in my eyes, I was in the barbershop in Llano today. Gabe and his wife left yesterday to see their daughter in Melbourne, Australia, so it was just Link. With so many guys waiting, it was more like a doctor’s office. Just no sign saying payment arrangements were necessary prior to services received.

Lincoln Deeds graduated from Llano High School in 1948. Link spent six years in the United States Navy and saw as much of the world as he could. Link came home, went to barber college in Austin for six months, came back to Llano, married the prettiest girl available, and has been cutting hair since.

Life for Link is his wife, two kids, four grand kids, yard work, hunting, fishing, church, and attending every volunteer fire department fish fry or barbeque in Llano and surrounding counties. I guess one could say Link is a Llano County Renaissance man.

With Gabe gone, there are no breaks for Link the next three weeks. It is hard enough closing the barbershop for lunch. All the same, no rush or cutting corners on the haircuts. Hardship is hardly an excuse for Link to give any less than his best haircut.

This gives a fellow waiting, time to learn family and local history. No profanity or disparaging remarks are allowed. Excepting commemorating every odd ball or crooked thing done by every odd ball or crooked family in Llano County. (Which just about includes everyone).

Of course, every one would prefer a good, or even bad, fishing or hunting story, if one is available. Yesterday, after eight hours on his feet, 79 year old Link went home and had supper. Then he went down to the Llano River and put out and baited some fish lines. Link got up early this morning and checked the lines. He had four catfish weighing between one and three pounds. Link cleaned the fish and put them in the freezer. Then Link cleaned up Link and was at work at 8:30 am.

Listening to the talk, I got to thinking about all the people on welfare, including corporate, banking and insurance entities, waiting for the government to give them something. Bet Link never got anything he hadn't earned. Maybe all those people waiting to be given something should have just learned to get up a little earlier and get some lines in the water.

Link did get a bailout of sorts. The rodeo begins tonight, and Link's wife Marti doesn't want to be late. So Marti, age 75, is mowing the yard today. I do wonder how many overweight teenagers and their mothers decided it was too hot to mow today. Tonight all the people who spent the day sitting on their butts are going to be pretty uncomfortable sitting on the hard benches at the rodeo. But I bet those benches will feel pretty good to Link and Marti.

People in Rochelle, nine miles northeast of Brady, are pretty proud tonight. Rochelle won the Texas State high school girls track championship today. They are the best track team in their division in the state. Well, I guess some say Bonnie Richardson is the best team in the state. She was the only entrant from the school. Bonnie won the high jump and long jump events and finished second in the discus. Running on an “off day”, Bonnie finished third in the 200-meter dash and fourth in the 100-meter dash on Saturday. Rochelle High School, aka Bonnie, compiled 38 points to beat Cayuga by two points. RHS, er Bonnie, also won the State track team championship last year.

This calls to mind the story a Texas mayor faced with a riot at the beginning of the 20th century. The mayor telegraphed Austin requesting assistance. A prompt telegraph reply was received two hours later, "Help arriving tomorrow." As the mayor waited on the platform, a lone Texas Ranger stepped off the train. The mayor looked around and then said, "You mean all they sent was one Ranger?" "Yep," the Ranger replied, "you only mentioned one riot."

It appears both amazingly brief and simple when an individual makes a significant achievement. What is hidden is all the commitment, effort, sacrifice and struggle that goes into a victory.

Tomorrow is D Day, June 6th. President Obama will be marking the price paid by the Allies that day 65 years ago. I will take mom and Hazel out for lunch. Hazel's husband Roy, who passed away two years ago, survived both D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

I always remember how hard young men of Roy's era had to work just to survive. I remember how they accepted responsibility and sacrifice from their earliest years. I remember how harsh and unkind life was to these young men. I remember how little they had and yet with just a string and a hook they experienced fun in the catching and the joy of contributing to others. I remember how hard they trained under extremely difficult circumstances. When I remember all these things, I sort of understand how when their landing boats let down the ramps, these young men, and those that followed, could put one foot in front of the other until they got all the way to Berchtesgaden.

Now days, being a citizen of the world's only super power, along with $1.73, gets one a small cup of coffee at Starbucks. People keep reelecting those who say power and prosperity are achieved through spending and borrowing.

A little while ago I was listening to Vera Lynn sing The White Cliffs of Dover. When only England was left to stand against the Axis Powers, the English had little more than Spitfires and hymns of faith like The White Cliffs of Dover to sustain them. Winston Churchill was wise in that he understood his people, their strengths, and their weaknesses. He only promised the English people, "blood, sweat, and tears." Churchill knew his people were capable of enduring whatever needed to be endured.

Today, President Obama and other career politicians are promising ramped up economic stimulus spending. I would have much more faith in our future if he only promised commitment, effort, sacrifice and struggle. The former promise has a temporary blessing for the present. The latter promise would provide a blessing for generations to come.

As I watch our leaders, I keep thinking about the Chinese proverb, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime." The more the government gives, the fewer people know how to fish.


Nancy1340 said...

I'm very glad to see other's enjoy my friend Paul's wonderful tales of his Hillcountry. He really does make you feel as though if you saw some of the people he tells about on the street you would know exactly who they are and their life stories.


Nancy1340 said...

It's good to see other's appreciate Paul's work as much as I do. He's a old friend even though we have never met FTF. Yet.

tom said...

As one who lives not too far East of this fellow in the Hill Country, he forgot the other Central Texas Fishing Proverb:

Always take two Baptists or Methodists with you when you go fishing (because if you only bring one he'll drink all your beer).

Us grumpy old mechanical oriented people are allowed beards, I'd never really thought about beards in this part of the world, but my first "real" employer as a mechanic in Texas suggested I grow a beard if I could because I looked too baby-faced and people would take me more seriously. I've worn one ever since from trim to ZZ-Top length. Women seem to fall in three categories on beards to me around here
1) Don't like beards
2) Want you to have a goatee or other what I consider "non-beardlike facial plumage" or keep it really short
3) Ones that like long beards

I honestly couldn't tell you if I think there's more 1s or 2s around here but there's enough 3s (and 2s that think they can make me shave it into a goatee eventually) that I can still get dates.

Regards from the Pedernales River Basin,