Monday, March 06, 2006

The Mountain Laurel Is Blooming Back Home

I did a lot of growing up in the Texas Hill Country. We moved out to the hills northwest of San Antonio when I was eight, and when I left home for Rice at eighteen, I was still in love with a land where it seems like secrets lie hidden just over the next hill, in a quiet limestone crag under dark and somber cedar. They lie there and you never want anyone to find them.

It's the spring time when I miss it most. There are a few mountain laurel trees around here, planted as decorative shrubs, and they're in full bloom right now. I can't begin to describe what these bunches of blossoms smell like. It's a grapey, winey, heady sort of smell. To me it's the closest thing I can think of to nectar and ambrosia. But you can never enjoy them on a manicured green lawn the way you can when they leap up out of the cactus and brush on a rocky hillside. Something so soft and polished and sweet in a land where almost every native thing scratches, pricks, bites, or stings.

I remember an evening years ago in the early spring. The sun had set and the sky was a soft lavender. The entire orb of the moon was visible, but only the narrowest crescent glowed, along with one faintest star. A warm wind floated off the hillside to the north, and carried with it this heavenly smell, a smell of springtime and warmth and beauty, that seemed to pour from the sky itself. The fireflies came out in the trees as the stars came out in the darkening sky. Somehow those hours have lasted years for me.

Now that Mom has sold that house, and lives in suburbian Schertz, Texas, I feel like I don't have a home to go back to. Only a house. Things change.

An east wind blows my mind into the wild.
I long for gleams of ever-setting suns
To light the deserts, hills, and mountain tops
And burn the canyon lips like brandy-wine.
My soul would fly on fire o'er golden lands,
Rocks never by the ocean's wash subdued
But stretching ever on and on
Beneath the rays of setting sun.


Katy Scarbrough said...

Ha! i was thinking when you were telling me about it that it was "Shirts," which i thought was a weird name for a town!

Amy Barr said...

I hear ya. I'm in a state of limbo, too, and it bites.

When I was a junior in high school, we moved out of my home and into my "new" house, so I never really got attached. When I was away at college, we remodeled. When I went away to grad school, mom moved out and now has an apartment of her own, and none of her stuff's at the house anymore. In fact, everyone in my family doesn't call it "home" anymore, we just refer to the house by its street name. Champaign is "the apartment". It's very much a loss of self, a personal identity awkwardness, to not know where home is.

Hug. I know what you're going through, and if you want to talk, lemme know.