Thought about you yesterday, matter of fact, and that's why I'm here.
We went coursing, you see. Lure coursing. Loaded Sheba and Belle and some gear in the van and headed vaguely northwestish, into Texas, land of the wide dry open. And wind. My gods that place has some wind. No wonder it's always pictured with windmills. I lay in the hotel bed Saturday night and could feel the heat radiating from the windburn that still covers my face.
Coursing was fun, as it always is. Sheba was off for some reason and didn't finish either of her two races, even though she slipped from the line like she was going to run the hairy hind legs off Lucifer Hisself. Belle performed admirably but was beaten by a very young, very fast dog, and fairly as well, no hard feelings, no grumbling. But my let-down that afternoon made me think about why I was feeling that way, and made me remember my personal mantra. It's not the big things, it's the little things. Winning would have been great, but there will be other races, and frankly all she has to do is keep placing second and earning even a single point at a time to complete her Field Championship, so it's not like we're struggling to get those big wins.
The little things appeared all during the trip. The huge black birds with the massive, fan-like tails that stayed high in the bare trees all Saturday calling in weird melodies to each other. The little girl who spent the whole event squatting in the dirt assembling a huge complex of cairns, all stones and twigs and mounded up dry dust. The look of joy on Belle's face when she finally caught the 'bunny' and was the only one of her group of three to "finish with enthusiasm," chewing and tearing at the white trash bag. The abandoned railroad tracks beside the hotel, the ones that ended at the four lane highway, disappeared into the dirt only to reappear on the other side of the expanse of concrete.
The best little thing, though, the one that touched me all the way down was the airplane.
Standing in the parking lot of the hotel, walking the girls back to the room from a potty break I heard the gruff, unmistakable sound of a rotary engine high in the sky. I saw the airplane moments after I heard the sound. It looked for all the world like a kid's drawing of an airplane. The whole scene did, actually.
Picture a sky so piercingly blue it could have come from a child's crayon drawing. A blue so frankly startling that it didn't seem real, somehow. The huge white clouds were equally contrived, so white and so perfect that only a child's imagination could picture a cloud that way and colour it so shockingly white. The biplane was red, uniformly red, not a marking visible on it, not an identification letter or number anywhere on it to mar it. Seeing it there, hanging in the perfectly blue sky, backed by those perfectly white clouds it simply shouted down to the ground, to anyone watching: "I am RED!"
The pilot, whoever he or she happened to be was up in that exquisite child's sky being a child him or herself. The plane roared and grumbled like only a biplane's rotary engine can, hauling the kite aloft, flinging it toward the ground without ever hitting. Up and over in loop after loop, long slow graceful turns like a dancer on an infinitely huge dance floor it moved around as though it were dreaming. Slow, wide climbs, tilting over a bit at a time until the pilot hung upside down at the very top, no doubt staring down at all of us; tiny specks on a one to one scale map of the world. Then an equally slow slip down the other side until, at the bottom, a graceful, unhurried twist until the sky was right-side up and the little biplane was climbing back up again into another huge roll, and another, and another.
I could have stood there all day, mouth agape, drinking in the sight and the sound but eventually the red kite bobbing there in the sky pointed itself away from me and unhurriedly took its leave, moving unhurriedly from the floor to be lost in that impossibly blue sky.
That's why I was in Texas. All those reasons and more. All those tiny little moments, like a child's drawing of a biplane in a perfectly blue sky.