My husband and I like to take a trip for our birthdays. His is in June which is a nice month to be gone from Houston’s heat and humidity. Last June, however, we had just bought a house and moved while still trying to sell our old house, so twelve days in the French countryside wasn’t on the agenda.
Instead, I took him to Cat Springs, Texas, about an hour outside of Houston. Unlike this June, last year’s temperatures were much cooler—hovering between 70 and 80 in the morning and staying under 90 in the afternoon. I booked a cottage on a ranch and a morning horseback ride, and figured the rest would take care of itself. The cottage turned out to be what I call Texas country tourist—lots of cutesy decoration, a Texas flag theme with cow accents—but with a certain charm. Although it had been a long time since either of us had ridden, the horses were cooperative and the ranch was beautiful with its meadows full of wild flowers and cool, lush woods. It was a world far removed from the city and the stress of daily life.
In jeans and boots—this is Texas— we set out to explore the environs. Driving around the countryside we discovered a general store with items we hadn’t seen in decades, a trading post where I bought a pair of handmade slippers, and some of the best barbeque we’ve ever eaten. In Fayetteville town square (aka Texas Pickin' Park ) impromptu groups of musicians with guitars, banjoes, fiddles and harmonicas were jamming everything from gospel to classic country to an occasional pop-country hit. Everyone was welcome to sit in, ages 10 to 90, expert to not so good. As we sat and listened, I felt like we’d stumbled through a time-warp to an era before TV and video games when families gathered with their neighbors in small towns all over the country.
I love living in the city and taking trips to France, England and other foreign destinations, but once in a while it’s nice to appreciate the simple pleasures close to home—an early morning ride through a meadow, music just for the fun of it, and some seriously killer brisket washed down with a cold Corona.