During Memorial Day weekend at the end of May Mike, Mattie and I travelled northwards from San Antonio to visit Enchanted Rock State Park, in the middle of the Hill Country. It rained during the morning – as it has done a lot lately – and on our approach we could hardly see anything of the surrounding hills. ‘It reminds me of North Wales,’ I said to Mike, looking up at the clouds – ‘and I never thought anything in south Texas would remind me of North Wales!’ We decided to have lunch first, after which hopefully the weather might have improved. We popped into a little barbecue joint called Cranky Franks, just outside the German town of Fredericksburg. Mike and Mattie chose brisket and I chose the pork ribs; both were delicious and they were combined with the usual sides of coleslaw, potato salad, gherkins, jalapeno peppers, pinto beans and – much to Mattie’s delight – chocolate or vanilla pudding for dessert. Just as we left the little ramshackle building and headed towards Enchanted Rock the sun came out, and later the sight of this huge pink rounded rock formation was stunning. We now enjoyed perfect weather for the ascent, about 700 yards up a steep granite hillside dotted with yellow-blossoming prickly pear cactus, sprinklings of rusty pink and bright yellow wildflowers, and tiny flowering sedum. My only complaint was that I forgot the camera; the panoramic views of the Hill Country were just lovely and there was not a building in sight. I can’t wait to go back and do the four-mile hike that skirts the bottom of the Rock. Back in the car, we followed some empty winding roads in the direction of Johnson City and were thrilled by the sight of a roadrunner that crossed our path. The roadside verges and stony fields were completely covered with wildflowers of all colours, a particular delight as our last trip to the Hill Country, in April, specifically to view the wildflowers, had proved disappointing. The recent rains no doubt have been the reason for the late emergence of these gorgeous but short-lived blooms.
In Johnson City, named after the family of Lyndon Johnson (the former president’s wife, Lady Bird, was responsible for establishing Enchanted Rock as a State Park) we enjoyed a glass of local white wine before heading back to San Antonio. This week marks the end of Mattie’s first school year and Mike and I are so pleased that she has made such a seamless transition from her junior school in England to her middle school here; the school has proved to be a very good one and thankfully Mattie has found her niche. I was surprised, on first arriving here, to find so many private Christian and Catholic schools in existence, which sprang up in the mid-1960s when Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act, thereby ending legal segregation. For me, the greatest shame of the abundance of private schools is that it splits up the children in our neighbourhoods, but in this part of the U.S. it seems to be an accepted fact.