No Country for Flimsy Canvas Pirate Shoes
It's been quite a month or so for Rachel and Chase: First, they got married...
and then they bought a house and five acres of land.
(No, that's not their house, it's their neighbor's... but the land in the foreground is theirs.)
I'm not going to post any pictures of the house yet because, although it's a cute, kind of sprawling and ranchy place, it currently bears all the exterior and interior marks of renovation. I want to show it at its best, so you'll have to wait a few months until our next visit. Mark my words, though: It will be a fine, fine place when it is all shined up. Magpie-worthy!
So, you say... what's with the flimsy shoe reference? And well you may ask. It's a warning not to wear flimsy canvas slip-ons (even ones embellished with rhinestone-encrusted jolly roger accents) to pick your way through the scrub of the Chihuahuan Desert. I can offer that warning because, you see, I made that mistake.
When Jeff and I went with Rachel to get our first glimpse of the house, she led us out through this gate onto the the less civilized portion of their property:
I picked my way through the brush, following her lead, but I hadn't gotten ten feet outside the gate when my right foot erupted in the jangling pain of what seemed like a hundred tiny electric shocks. Actually, it felt like a mild stinging nettle attack, and for a moment I thought, "Are there nettles here? Why, I haven't been stung by nettles since the second time I was in England." Then I looked down. There, on the top of my foot ('cause y'know, I wasn't wearing any socks...) were thirty or more tiny red ants, just biting away. It makes me shudder just to think of it, even now. And the stinging was no longer mild. It was really starting to hurt. I brushed and slapped them away and bravely went on... for a few more steps.
That was when I got what I though was a rock in my shoe. But I couldn't shake it loose. And I sure was not going to take the shoe off in the middle of ant central (even though I was now watching the ground for signs of the nasty buggers). Eventually, I decided that these shoes were not the shoes to wear while trekking ANY part of the land outside the gate, and I made my way back to the carport, near the house. There, I discovered that there was no rock in my shoe. No...there was a little thorn or sticker or really nasty burr--but with very hard, very sharp spikes--embedded in the sole of my flimsy canvas pirate shoe and poking through right to my instep. Ouch! (Okay, pardner, go ahead: call me a tenderfoot. I dare you.) Rachel and Chase said they were from some kind of invasive species... they were all around. The dogs kept stepping on them and prising them out of their feet with their teeth after they had hopped around on three legs for a while.
Despite all these dangers to those who don't dress their feet properly, the spread is spacious and beautiful in a stark kind of way. There are birds everywhere, singing and warbling like nobody's business. There are even owls nearby--I heard them hooting several times. I'm sure there are all kinds of wildlife (other than those damned ants). And, since it had been raining fairly frequently (we experienced some amazing storms wild with lightning that lit up the desert and set the mountains between Marfa and Alpine into sharp relief in the dark desert night), the place was blooming with wildflowers... including this lovely prickly pear by their fence:
By the way, I paid for my flimsy footwear with a swollen foot that lasted through the night. At least it was only swollen--it didn't continue to jangle in pain.
Next up, the promised discussion of the magic of Marfa, some great eats, and the barn dance. Stay tuned!