This is this first part of an on-going collection of shorts dedicated to the time I spent in Blue Water, Texas.
In the years before I stopped enjoying breakfast, there was a flood in my hometown and I was sent away to the piney woods. I’m still not sure why only I was sent away—my older sister stayed at home and none of my family was evacuated, but I only thought of those questions after the fact. I felt like Lucy Pevensie in wartime, though there was a distinct lack of wardrobes in my grandfather’s tiny East Texas red cabin.
But there was my grandfather’s golf cart and main means of transportation, dubbed ‘the buggy,’ which was outfitted with a hand-control system to make up for his nonworking legs. The pedals were later taken out altogether, which caused me some frustration: without pedals, how was one supposed to pretend to drive a real car? As it turned out, I managed, though the suspension of disbelief did suffer somewhat.
There was also the Big Hole and the creek, and my twin cousins from the house down the south trail, which stirred all together resulted in madcap dashing around sandy cliffs and scuttling over fallen trees and leaping to the tall but ever-shrinking redsilt island which nevertheless made room for two or three whiplike pine saplings on its surface.
We didn’t swim at the Big Hole, no matter how deep and blue the water ran. Copperheads were too common around water sources, and the Big Hole was one of the only major sources for miles. But we did take our shoes off and smush around while we cleared its little creeks and tributaries of soggy pine needles. They weren’t strong and turned stagnant without some meddling.
And at the Big Hole there was the one yaupon that my grandfather always parked the buggy against when he visited the creek at sunset to play his harmonica and listen to the water. “It’s how I know I’m not still moving,” he explained the first time the buggy jolted to a stop against the tree. I never walked past that tree to the edge of the bank, though a few times I did loop one arm around the trunk so I could lean and look over the cliff into the water. That place marked the boundary of safety, and I imagined the tree’s roots were the only thing holding the cliff back from sliding down into the Big Hole below. The yaupon itself developed a strike of scarred bark that never faded and, if that sandy overhang hasn’t eroded away into what is now probably a much Bigger Hole, likely never will.