Late Covid American Sojourn: Day 15

We left Austin mid-morning yesterday. Yam, the photographer-professor-passionate breadmaker (with nearly 20K Instagram followers), sent us off with a loaf of sourdough for our short trip through Texas Hill Country to Fredericksburg. Today was our shortest leg, barely 90 minutes so we could set up for classes and faculty meetings.

The pale green hills were spotted with mesquite, cherry laurel, baldfaced cypress. We took a slight detour, dipping south through soft rolling country to pass through Luckenbach Texas. Not much of a town — just a few buildings, really. Thought we might catch a glimpse of Willie and Waylon, but only saw the boys — about two dozen bikers on their hogs, alongside a couple of weathered gray barns. Not much else there.

We angled north again, rolling into cutesy, charming Fredericksburg, lined with coffee shops, candy sellers, Hill Country wineries, bbq joints, and a whole lot of places to get schnitzel. The German immigrant influence is everywhere here, as is red-state disdain for later generations of immigrants. Amidst Schmidtzinsky Lane, the Alstadt Brewery, the Hotel Kitsmiller, the Auslander, Otto’s German Bistro, the Rathskellar, Marketplatz von Fredericksberg, and Der Stadt Friedhof (The City’s Cemetery), many big red Trump signs remain standing. A battered, handpainted panel truck read, somewhat cryptically, “Trump Promises Kept.” To have a battered panel truck?

Andrea got some fudge and a latte and we drove out to our Airbnb cottage, on a ranch east of town. We couldn’t tell which dirt road beyond which cattleguard to turn on, and finally a rancher in a Trump hat approached the car.

“Could you tell us where the Magnolia is?” I asked him.

“Burned down last night,” he joked — turns out he and his wife own the ranch — before pointing beyond the mother house and the RV to the white cottage standing on the plain. We unpacked and I got ready for class. After a time I heard Wyatt and Andrea head out — Wyatt in the white Stetson Andrea had found him in Tombstone — for their adventures with the ranch puppies, goats and donkeys. Rascal went, too, but when a curious donkey approached, sniffing the little guy, Wyatt scooped him up in his arms and cradled him like a baby. “Stay away from me you weirdo,” Rascal was thinking, according to Wyatt, who warned the pooch, “You don’t wanna be his next meal.”

“Where y’all from?” the Trump-hat rancher asked Andrea.

“California, but don’t hold it against us,” Andrea half-joked.

“That’s okay,” he drawled. “Long as you don’t leave any of those California ideas around here.”

Okey-doke. Can’t imagine what kind of ideas he’s talking about.

After class I picked up some schnitzel and German beer in town and drove back to the ranch. Dusk settled over the land, and the chill came quickly. After dinner, I walked a bit, above our cottage. The western sky rimmed red and orange. Already, to the southeast, Orion’s Belt hung, bright in the sky. The chill deepened. We came back to the cottage.

Later, for just a moment, the three of us poked our heads out, trotted down the porch steps, and looked up into the moonless, milky sky, studded with jewels. We too are suspended in time, for this moment, our little family making our way, step by step, home to Los Angeles.

Photo by Andrea Portes. Wyatt, in his Stetson, saves Rascal’s life from a marauding donkey.

Late Covid American Sojourn: Day 14

Late Covid American Sojourn: Day 16

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