Another Good One Gone

It was the summer of 1973, and I was unpacking boxes in a Houston apartment. When Kinky Friedman and his Texas Jewboys came on the radio with their rousing rendition of “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed,” I became fairly certain, fairly quickly, that I’d left Iowa behind.

That same summer, Jerry Jeff Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band were in Luckenbach, recording Viva Terlingua. It wasn’t long before I made it to Luckenbach, not to mention Austin’s Broken Spoke, Gruene Hall, and Crider’s Dance Hall and Rodeo. Along the way, names like Guy Clark, Gary P. Nunn, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Michael Martin Murphey began to resonate like a good guitar on a back porch.

There’s a lot to like about Texas, especially the variety and quality of our music. Jerry Jeff was one of our best, and it’s good that his music remains: evoking memories, and easing grief over his passing.

“We play country music. We’re just not sure what country it is.”

Jerry Jeff Walker March 16, 1942 – October 23, 2020

 

Comments always are welcome.

There’s No Place Like Home

Judged only by color, the small, snuffling creature making its way along the roadside east of Alamo Springs might have been taken for just another limestone rock. But rocks don’t have ears, or pointed snouts, and they certainly don’t dig into the dirt with the energy of a hyperactive toddler.

When the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is foraging, there isn’t much that distracts it, partly because of its poor eyesight. The animal relies on its ears and nose to detect food or predators, and it’s easier than you might think to walk up on one from behind. When it finally senses your presence, it often raises up on its haunches to evaluate the situation.

I was surprised that this one seemed content to keep foraging even after spotting me, rather than scurrying away into the brush. I was especially pleased to be able to see some of the hairs around its sides; they function much like whiskers on a cat, helping the poorly-sighted creature to find its way around.

For nearly twenty minutes it wandered the roadside, stopping occasionally to sniff or to dig.

Eventually, it stopped sniffing and crossed the road, moving so quickly I had a hard time keeping up.

All was well until it came to the fence. For nearly five minutes, it walked back and forth along the wire, stopping occasionally as though considering whether it would be worth digging its way to the other side.

Apparently, it decided digging would be too much trouble. In a flash, the athletic armadillo jumped straight into the air, propelling itself onto the fence wire.

Then, as gracefully as you please, it pushed off the wire and landed on the ground.

With what might have been a grin of self-satisfaction on its face, it trotted down the fence line until it came to a patch of clean, soft dirt.

Claws flying, it began creating and enlarging a hole until, finally, it slipped beneath the fence, and out of sight.

It seemed our beloved Texas icon — the state’s official small mammal and well-known Muse — had arrived safely at home, just like Gary P. Nunn at the end of his London trip. Whether it celebrated by writing a song, I can’t say.

 

“London Homesick Blues”  aka “Home With the Armadillo”

 

Comments always are welcome.
For some interesting Texas armadillo history, visit “Armadillo Whispers” at The Task at Hand.