Sunday last we returned from Kansas. We'd planned the trip because there was a sustainability conference in Iowa Jerry wanted to attend and a red-headed six-month old great-grandson I was desperate to get my hands on in Kansas.
Our greatest hopes for the trip were fulfilled--I got lots of baby Adam and other family time, and Jerry came back super hyped by the people he'd met and the exciting sense that not all is doomed for the small towns we love (and the small community in which we live). But more about that later.
My gray Dodge Charger (aka the "Dodger") ran like a top for the 2,000 mile trip. We listened to Ambrose's Undaunted Courage on CDs as the countryside flew by, rekindling our desire to drive the Lewis and Clark route, munching on Clif bars and apples and drinking coffee.
Come Tuesday morning, Dodger was not so happy, and a trip to Gordon's Automotive in Austin revealed that a large rodent had made a nest in the engine something or other and chewed up a bunch of wiring in the process. (I was surprised, although at the Ranch we've dealt with snakes and cats in our vehicle engines before and it seldom has a happy outcome for all concerned.)
So Wednesday Jerry brought me into the condo so I could go to choir practice and hand around waiting for the car to be fixed. Thursday I had a doctor's appointment close to the university, so I looked up the bus routes and figured out how to get there.
Thursday mid-morning I bravely headed off for my first adventure on Capitol Metro in oh, about 35 years or so, and boarded the #5 bus headed south.
The driver was helpful, with a friendly laugh and easy way with his passengers, most of whom he seemed to know. We rumbled along unfamiliar streets until we were close to the university and got off at Dean Keeton and Speedway.
From there it was a half-mile walk in a gentle rain.
I got out of the doctor's office early and decided to go down to the drag to have some lunch and maybe catch the exhibit on the King James Bible at the Ransom Center. As I ambled along, students whizzed past me on bikes and professorial types crossed my path looking intense and preoccupied.
It was an atmosphere in which I feel completely at home, having spent years of my life on campus, studying, teaching, working. But I marveled at how free I felt as I surveyed my fellow pedestrians. They were so intense, and I felt so serene. The day opened before me uncharted.