Saturday, April 4, 2009

a girl and her Texas: a love story

yes, i've lived here in austin going on 3 years now and i've known since i first stood foot in this town that it was for me and that we were going to have a great love affair.

the same couldn't be said for the state of texas though. i've always had a kind of tenuous, "hands-off" relationship with the rest of the state. there's a lot of desert here. and they're just on a gulf, not an ocean, so the waves are minimal unless there's a hurricane. and they have weird weather. oh, and my mom HATES TEXAS WITH A PASSION and has tried to instill that hatred in me since birth.
i'm still trying to find the beauty in desert. i'm sure that will come in time. until then, i found the beauty in the texas hill country which is looking a little like desert these days due to the fact that we had NO RAIN this winter.

it all began because this woman at work was telling me about this place that is the only working flower farm in texas - meaning they farm flowers for the seeds - and they have a nursery and flower fields that you can walk around in and you can cut your own flowers and they have a butterfly house. now, the way she described it, you'd have thought there were acres of magical flower forest and a multi-level castle of butterflies and loveliness. so, of course, i HAD to go! i decided on saturday morning and early so i could beat the crowds because we are in the middle of a string of PERFECT weather days. perfect. and i knew it'd be packed if i went too late and i'm not into packed.
it's about a 1.5 hour drive and i was on the road at 9:15am. when i'm fully on 290, i realize that texas' time is really the morning time. it's definitely a state that "wakes up" and part of the reason i fell in love with it today was getting to watch the state wake up on my drive. then, "texas music" (as in, artists from texas) started playing on my ipod. and IT ALL STARTED COMING TOGETHER. i can't explain it, but i'm now so enamored with my state that it's disgusting. i love the pride that people have in living here. i love that people have no shame in showing their pride. as a matter of fact, it's a competition to some to see who has more or the most. i love the weirdness. i love the fact that there's so much "old shit" here that every tiny town has at least 4 "rustic antique" stores.
i'm driving, becoming more enamored each mile, and i go through johnson city and just past it, i see this metal bull on the side of the road.

i had seen it before when we went to luckenbach, but i thought it was a fluke, so i didn't pay attention to it, but when i saw it again this time, i made a note to stop and take a photo of it on the way back.
i get to the flower place and... well... it's not what i imagined it would be. yes, they've got a HUGE nursery and a beer garden (yay!) but the flower field (note the singularity) left something to be desired - there weren't much more than poppies and bluebonnets blooming - and the butterfly "haus" (their spelling, not mine) was pretty tiny. still, i walked through the field and got some pretty pictures that might make it seem like more than it was. i also walked through the butterfly "haus" and get some neat pics in there, but it was really difficult to capture the constant motion in there from all the fluttering.

it was getting warm and i was hungry so i decided to take off and head back to austin. still falling in love with the dried up hill country on my way back, i was starting to compose some of this story in my head when i happened upon the bull again. i stopped, took some photos and noticed a small sign saying that the bull was part of a sculpture ranch that was about 5 miles up this little road. there were a couple of other sculptures there to whet your interest, so i decided to head up. it was free and i didn't have anything else to do. why not?? and a sculpture ranch? that just SOUNDS rad.
i drove down the road, which seemed a lot longer than 5 miles and it's one of those roads that someone would think you're taking them down to kill them because there is NOTHING AROUND to hear them die. the only thing that's on the road are signs: one warning you of "loose livestock" (i could go so many places with this) and the others gently urging you onto the sculpture ranch.
as you turn into a random drive, the sculptures begin. it was AMAZING. these huge, gorgeous pieces of art, set, literally, in the middle of nowhere - in the middle of this stark hill country. there's a half mile of sculptures lining the road up to a half-dome warehouse looking place - kind of like a metal greenhouse - this is the gallery. apparently, this artist has been around for 50 years and the gallery hosts pieces of his past works. as well, he's some kind of hermit and even the people who work the gallery haven't met him. the art in the gallery was stunning. it had so much depth and dimension, you are compelled to reach out and touch it just to make sure it's flat. then there's the rest of the ranch. there are 2 "trails" that you drive down to see all the sculptures on offer. it's kind of like one of those drive-thru safaris, but with art. majestic, beautiful art. i think it's better because it's set against this landscape.
i won't go into it anymore, because it's officially the "field trip" i'm taking every person on when they come visit austin. it would be a crime not to. this is my favorite photo from the ranch because this is how i felt when i found it:

so, i fall in love with this state, then i find this incredibly awe-inspiring piece of randomness. i think the cosmos needed me to love this place a lot today. and i did. and i still do.

all the photos will be on flickr by the end of the day sunday. i only took 232 pictures and am uploading 166 of them. and my flickr is SLOW.

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