A Sunday Drive: In Search of Bluebonnets

Barely out of the car, Annie is panting in the hot sun at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park. These were some of the few bluebonnets we encountered.

Having finally accomplished the long-put-off doing of my income taxes before noontime, and with the yard and garden work already finished for the weekend, I coaxed Annie into the car and off we headed out 290 in quest of bluebonnets.

The bluebonnet is the the Texas state flower, and for a few weeks in spring, the roadsides and pastures can be ablaze in color from the bluebonnets and other wildflowers, especially the Indian paintbrush

Without seeing a glimpse of a bluebonnet, we drove as far as the quaint, old town of Chappell Hill and turned onto a side road.  This asphalt lane, like so many other roads in the Texas Hill Country, seems to be filled with natural beauty and history.  It never ceases to amaze me how on one piece of land you’ll see a humble dwelling that probably was once a share-cropper’s house, and then, not even a quarter mile down the road, a 6 or 7 figure “swankienda” stretches out into the acreage.  But these, along with the green meadows and wooded creeks, make for a drive that forces you to go at a speed slower than that of Granny going to church.

After about 50 miles of driving, a small, hillside field showed off its indigo glory, but the cars and motorcycles that were already stopped left no place to pull over and try to take pictures of a small dog romping amongst the bluebonnets.

So on we went a few miles, and ended up at Washington, Texas, which is the place where the Texas Declaration of Indepedence from Mexico was signed.  Many years ago, a big part of the area was made into the Washington-on-the-
Brazos State Park
.  It’s really a wonderful place, not too overdone with the history part.  There’s a museum and a visitors center, but there are also places to picnic and lots of trails to walk and discover the history as well as nature’s beauty.

With a 92-degree south wind pushing at us, a maybe mile-long walk was about enough to do in a guy and a little dog.  I’d brought water for her, which she lapped up when we got back to the car, but after getting the AC going, I began looking for a convenience store to find a cold drink for myself.

We did find some bluebonnets in the park, but either it’s still a bit early or the drought has caused the bluebonnets to suffer this year.  Whatever.  We had a good day on our quest, finding more than the flowers.

Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. This looks like a replica to me; maybe some of the boards are original.

Some of the flowering plants growing along the pathways. The pinkish-purple appears to be a native verbena. The white blossoms on the other plant were pretty, but the stem looked very prickly.

The park has many trails to wander, some along the Brazos River. Here and there, youll find informational signage, telling about the history of the site, but these signs do not interfere with just enjoying the tranquillity of the area.

Pieces of history, like this old water well, are evident throughout the park, but because the park has not been "over-developed", the visitor can almost feel like he is discovering artifacts.

Located outside of the state park, current-day Washington, Texas holds hardly more than some kind of eatery and a post office.

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California Court’s Decision on Proposition 8 May Be Disappointing, But 18,000 Legally Married Same-Sex Couples “Ain’t Nothin’ To Sneeze At”

same-sex coupleThe California Supreme Court sent out a mixed message today when it upheld last November’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages, but, on the other hand, did not make make the proposition retroactive, which means that the 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place previous to the election are still legal.

While those opposed to gay marriage may be celebrating today, they must realize that the sand in the top of their hourglass continues to drain into the bottom: eighteen thousand gay marriages remain intact despite the millions they spent. The court’s ruling only says that the proposition made a legal change in California’s Constitution; the court did not say gay marriage was wrong; in fact, just the opposite is the case in allowing the 18,000 marriages to stand.

The effect of allowing the 18,000 marriages to remain legal will be much more enduring than the upholding of Proposition 8.

Except for under the G. W. Bush administration (with various interferences to privacy and to the writ of habeas corpus), it’s hard to think of civil liberties, once granted, that have been retracted. How willing would African-Americans be to go back into slavery? Would women say, “Oh, we’re just so happy with the way men run the government that we’ll just stay at home on election day”? Can you imagine Jon and Kate or any other inter-racial couples thinking how “unnatural” it would be to get married and have kids? When it comes to civil liberties, it’s very hard to get the toothpaste back in the tube once it’s been squeezed out.

And gay people are not going back either.

Because of these 18,000 marriages, gay marriage will become legal for other couples, one way or the other. It may be through the court itself or through the ballot box. It may come about through more people realizing that equality counts for all, not for just some. It may come about when a financially-strapped state understands the boon of same-sex marriages.

Whatever way–things will change. Look at the difference between now and barely a year ago. Until May 15th of last year when the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, only the state of Massachusetts allowed it. In spite of Proposition 8, 18,000 couples were legally married in California, and . . . same-sex marriage became law in Connecticut (since October 10, 2008), Iowa (since April 27, 2009), Vermont (starting September 1, 2009) and Maine (starting September 14, 2009). And it appears some of the “New” states–New York, New Jersey, and New Hampshire will approve gay marriage soon.

So for all the NOMers and other nay-sayers out there, imagine a “storm” of fluffy clouds, spring flowers, and the most delicious wedding cakes out there, because if you think you’ve won something today in California, most gay people see a silver lining that’s going to be found in more and more tuxes and wedding gowns all across the land.

In just looking at the Declaration of Independence, I see again that it says that one of the unalienable rights is “the pursuit of happiness”. Nothing in there that I can read says that working to make other people’s lives unhappy is an unalienable right. But, thank goodness, people like Maggie Gallagher, James Dobson, and Jerry Falwell are a dying breed. Oh, sorry, Falwell’s dead already, isn’t he?