My time at Charro Ranch started with a heartbreak, ended with a heart stop, and had me question everything in between. Driftwood, Texas will forever be visceral in its realities of life and death, so long as it’s not gobbled up by concrete subdivisions, and has reminded me often not to take things too personally, because it is never about me and always something bigger. It has afforded me an opportunity to learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and I’ve come to appreciate all my experiences over the years on the ranch, as they race through my mind.
The plan was to meet Reed in Texas after a few days in Chicago, but he never arrived and now it seems quite possible he will always avoid the places I am standing, for reasons beyond my reasoning. It is because of these reasons I spent the time reorganizing my Texas life and preparing for a new direction, one that will include cows, but will not include Reed.
My first day in Texas, I backed my car up the driveway and heard a strange yelp as I rolled up to the house. I paused, looked out my car window and was horrified to see tiny legs kicking under the car. I maneuvered the car away, exposing a whimpering newborn deer who’s head I just crushed. She was still alive when I dropped to the ground and put my hands on her jerking body to calm her, or perhaps to calm my horror and give me the exasperated chance to apologize for killing her on her first day of life.
It was terribly heartbreaking. I was officially a wreck and fought back my tears during my eye exam later that morning, even my eye doctor, bless his heart, paused to hug and comfort me over the unfortunate early morning death of a fawn.
After she left this world, I placed her lifeless body in a beautiful field of wildflowers I now call Fawn Field.
The days ticked by and it became evident Reed would not arrive. Our phone conversations were awful and ugly, his rage over me being in Texas grew by the hour.
The rains soon arrived and with it came an army of spiders, mud and scorpions looking for higher ground. Electricity flickered and roads disappeared. I was killing scorpions without batting an eye and barely flinched when I awakened a huge 5-inch centipede. On the third day, I could stand it no more and fled to Austin to escape the pounding rains and my saddening heart. Thank God for cousin Noelle; she helps me feel normal in the world again as I follow behind her in malls I am literally a foreigner in, stomping the scorpions away from my mind.
Texas has always tested me in this regard; its weather and insects always a bit bad-asser and larger than what I’m accustomed, and in hindsight I’ll always be grateful it hasn’t yet killed me, but in fact has made me stronger. I spent many years at odds with Texas; it is arrogant and uppity when you’re not from here, but now she’s in my blood and I love her many people, places, animals and occasional gut-wrenching lessons.
I soon returned to the ranch to finalize the condensing of my life, and spent a stormy sunset with the cows on Swan Lake. They moved in to stand closer, which surprised and delighted me, as the Texas cows have always kept a fair distance, but not on this night. Did they know I was sad and in need of a friend? No, I’m sure they did not but who’s to say if they did?
Reed was not coming, and in fact he had since exploded in a sea of stabbing words at me, for me and about me; it is time for me to go. There is no point in details because when two people live in entirely different worlds, the details are unnecessary and the truth unavoidable; get out and away before someone gets hurt. Although someone may be hurt.
The last day at the ranch I was prepared to leave and went to dip my feet in a raging Onion Creek where Bandito Bridge crosses; I have renamed this bridge because I miss that dog terribly and we always had a blast at the river. It’s a beautiful day and I notice everything; I feel so privileged to know this part of the Texas Hill Country; it is magical and raw in so many ways and I think back to when I first arrived in 2005 and hated it with all its bugs and creatures that go bump in the night. I have come so far because now I love to spend time at Charro Ranch and will miss it terribly. But it is time to go. One last visit with the cows …
I pulled up to the barn and all the cows were wailing and screaming and mooing like mad, it was an awful, awful scene! I jumped out of my car to see that the calves were in the pen and the mommas were out; the calves were being weaned and everyone was wailing. RayRay the horse was in the pen too, and was more unsettled than usual, pushing the calves around with his nose, completely uninterested in the apple I had for him, heyying and neyying all over the place. “What the hell is going on here??!” I asked as the wailing got louder and cows who normally keep their distance moved still closer to me.
Slow-motion turn, just like the movies.
I turned around and saw “him”. A huge, raging black Spanish bull, a bullfighting bull to be precise, as I have seen many times at the bullfights in Mexico. He had escaped from a ranch down the highway and was crazed with lust. He was panting and grunting, his head darting impatiently and aggressively. Without a moment to think, I hopped on air the 30-or-so feet back to my car — the bull moved towards me and grunted even more. Then he began to run towards me yet turned on a dime just as I reached my car. Fight or flight, I was completely in it and have no recollection of anything for the next several whatever’s, but sat there with my mouth agape completely aghast that there was a raging bullfighting bull on the loose now raping all the wailing momma cows. The bellowing moos still haunt me, as does the fact I’m still alive when a bull bred to kill somehow did not to kill me. Remember this is not personal, Meag.
My week at Charro Ranch started with a tearful, dying whimper and ended in an explosion of seething anger, and while it is true my heart is still lodged in my throat, I’m alive with a flush in my veins and more wiser view of the world thanks to this Driftwood, Texas ranch and its owner Reed Burns.
Thank you for all the adventures Charro Ranch, I love you so much xx