Monday, April 06, 2009

Rollin' around San Saba with my buddy Ellis.

A week ago, this last Monday, my buddy Ellis asked me to help him out with a testing CD. He needed to get into it and extract some questions so he could make an exam for a class he's teaching. He met me over here at the library, but we couldn't download the program on the libraries computer. So I just showed him how to cut and paste the questions onto a word file.

After that I loaded the file onto my thumb drive, drove over to his house and loaded it onto his lap top. Easy, peasy. After a while he took me for another drive around the country. We had time to kill before it was time to head back to the prison for our evening classes, so he took me out and showed me a few more local sights.

last time we did this he took me out to his land. It beautiful pecan bottom along the San Saba river, with huge old native trees and lots of space to play in. This time he asked me if I'd seen the Wedding Oak.

On the way we passed by someones pecan grove. There's a lot of places like this around here, with young trees like these, and many old ones, with all the trees planted in a bunch of nice neat lines. He says it's really cool when they bring the machines to trim them. His trees are all native, spread out at random along the river bottom.

Very soon after driving northwest out of town, we made a right turn and there she was.

For scale, here's a shot of me standing next to the trunk. 6'5", 300ish pounds, give or take, depending on how many corn dogs I have in a weak moment goin' to school in the mornin'.

Anyway, it's a friggin' HUGE tree. It's got to be at least four or five hundred years old, which means it's been standing here on this spot through all the events of American history since Columbus, and probably shaded many a Comanche band before then, as they migrated along on foot, hunting buffalo before the Spanish arrived and let some horses go.

The state has seen fit to set up a marker for the old girl, giving official status to the name "Wedding Oak", and noting it's more recent (in the last few hundred years) history, marking a day in about 1911 when several weddings took place under it's branches.

I bet it was a beautiful place to mark such an occasion, even back in those "old" days.

Imagine, finding a way to somehow link your life, your personal history to something so old and seemingly timeless.

Imagine standing there, nervous, glad for the shade and cool breezes of spring, thinking about all the others who have shaded themselves on that very spot.

Who were they, and what became of them? If only she could talk.

After a short stop at the Oak, Ellis drove me further on down the way a bit and showed me an old suspension bridge. The historical marker calls it the Beveridge Bridge, named after an Irish immigrant who was instrumental in having the first bridge set up at this spot in the San Saba river back in the 1800s.

We only came by for a short stop that day. Later on I came back and got more and better pictures of both the tree and the bridge.

Ellis says he remembers driving over it, stopping in the middle and feeling the thing sway under the weight of his truck.

Well, all I did was walk out on it. Considering how much it swayed under my weight - Now, be nice! - I can only imagine how much fun it must have been to drive over it all those years ago.

Of course, it's long since been bypassed, with the road moved a bit and a newer concrete bridge built just up stream, but rather than tear it down, the old bridge has been restored and preserved as a valued piece of the local history. It's a credit to the folks around here that they'd know to value something so seemingly useless. It's San Saba Counties "bridge to nowhere".

But it isn't. Sitting here as it does, it's a visible bridge to the past, like the Wedding Oak, tying the folks around here to something much older, and beyond value.

Pretty soon it was time to head back to class. Ellis drove me back to his place so I could get my car and he and I headed back over to the jail.

After I got out, three hours or so later, I tossed my books and stuff in the trunk and started the drive home. As usual, I cranked up the Cd player, opened the sunroof on the Silver Bullet and lit up a cigar, as I do every evening.

Nothing helps pass the time, making the hour-and-fifteen minute drive to the house, like a nice, slow burning stogy. If you see me tonight, zippin' along US 190 and 183... Oh, about three hours from now, you'll see me doing this very same thing. Wave, and maybe I'll wave back.

Well, it's about time to head over to the prison again. Library's closin' down on me. You guys have a great week and I'll see you later. Remember, you can check out more pictures at FlickR. Cheers!


Sarge Charlie said...

that is one hell of a tree, your buddy could be your brother.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe your comments didn't include food.

PRH....... said...

Nice road trip....and you guys are green already? We still are WHITE, as I look out my kitchen window at the squirrels fighting the birds for feed beneath the snow.

Suldog said...

The bridge is way cool. I love old stuff like that, preserved for folks to enjoy on its own terms. Thanks - truly - for the nice feeling I'm getting thinking of that sort of thing.

FHB said...

Thanks guys. I took pictures of another bridge today. It's like this one, but not as old... but it's still in use and beat to hell. I drove across it today.

Becky said...

I have a thing for big trees. They are just so awesome. We have an arboretum near my house with all sorts of trees. There is this really big willow that is my favorite. They have trees from all over the world planted there. I love the Japanese trees, they are neat.

FHB said...

I love a huge Willow too. The wood is great to make bows from. One day I'd love to have a decent plot of land with a big tank on it, with a few willow trees along the bank.