Ben H. English – Author – Alpine – Texas – America

Good Morning To All,

Before I get into the hows and whys of the attached photograph, I would first like to take the opportunity to thank Tumbleweed Smith for his excellent interview this past Thursday. He and ‘The Sound of Texas’ are Lone Star institutions, particularly in the more rural parts of our state. I appreciate your kindness, sir, and for having me on your program. May you continue on with your passion for many years to come.

Also, I would be remiss to not make mention of the many compliments I received about the interview via texts, phone calls, emails and social media. I appreciate each and every one, as well as the continuing support and encouragement that you, my readers, give me. It is humbling.

Now, on to the photo:

This was taken the day before Big Bend National Park was closed back in early April. I had parked my car at the Mule Ears Overlook and began drifting east and north, first along Mule Ear Spring Trail and then shadowing Smoky Creek Trail up toward the Chisos.

I say ‘shadow’ as about half the time I am not on the trail itself. You see, I have covered this ground numerous times before and prefer to just follow my nose as I move along. One never knows what one might find along the way while passing through.

Some scratch their heads at times about this, and how I seem to be ‘led’ in a certain direction. Though I have no logical explanation for this peculiar sense, I do consider the odd feeling a blessing. It has guided me throughout my life to some truly wondrous spots, and kept me out of a possible jam more times than I can count.

And so it was as I prowled my way up the direction of Smoky Creek Trail, repeatedly crisscrossing the path while coming upon seeps, shelters, remains of Indian camps, rusting barbed wire and attending rotting fence posts. There were other trails, too, so long forgotten that many sections have wasted away to nothing.

The sun overhead counted off the hours and by mid-afternoon I knew it was time to turn around. I was already running negative numbers, and calculating on utilizing a couple of short cuts and stretches where I could recon shuffle to make it back before dark.

I had already forked off the main trail, or what is the main trail now, to push north as far as I dared. Something kept me pulling onward, more of a sensation of exploration than anything else. I had already seen so many sights worth the effort, and wanted to top off my glorious bout with solitude with an equally glorious scene to remember.

That is when I found this. No doubt if I was in a real pinch, I could dig a bit at the base of those rocks and find water fit to drink. But there was no need as the canteens around my waist were still full, and the water bladder in my pack sloshed with a hearty reserve.

Besides, that would possibly mean having to disturb those clumps of pretty yellow wild flowers. So I just stood there for a long moment, soaking it all in with a big grin on my face.

The rare mid-afternoon moon, glowing white and perched above it all, grinned back.

And I knew it was time to turn around…

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
‘Graying but still game’

Front Street Books
Creative Texts Publishers
Crockett County Public Library
Medina Community Library
The Twig Book Shop
Old Town Books
The Boerne Bookshop
Hill Country Books
Marta Powell Stafford
Lone Star Literary Life
Tumbleweed Smith