Mattie called us around seven o’clock a few days ago and exclaimed, ‘Look out of the window, it’s snowing!’ Mike and I rushed to look out and lo and behold large, fluffy flakes were falling rapidly over our patio and pool and soon it was a winter wonderland: our house was covered in at least an inch of snow.
Although snow is not unusual in far west and far north Texas, I believe the last time it snowed like this here in San Antonio was 30 years ago. More surprising was the fact that it snowed on the Gulf Coast, too – the last time it snowed in Corpus Christi, I was told, was 1947. ‘Was your daughter excited about the snow?’ I asked our workman, Roberto. ‘Oh yes!’ he grinned, ‘I told her to go out and play in it!’ In fact, most of the schools in Corpus Christi were closed that day anyway – I think more out of shock than due to hazardous conditions on the roads.
The snow there soon disappeared and freezing temperatures must have been short-lived judging by the blossoming oleanders, jatrophas and frangipanis in the front gardens, but I did wonder how the birds reacted to the snow. I took a walk along Oso Bay Sunday morning after Mike and I had enjoyed a rather large breakfast in a nearby Mexican restaurant. I saw roseate spoonbills, white ibises and a blue heron merrily paddling together and thought, Shorebirds at least are colour blind in this complicated country.
On the bay is a little bar/restaurant called Oso Grill where Mike and I like to listen to live music (in a previous blog I mentioned that most of its fishing pier had been destroyed in the recent hurricane.) On this weekend, still pretty chilly, I doubted there were would any music but Mike said, ‘You never know,’ and after we had enjoyed a meal downtown, we turned up to see a small gathering of people and a country singer belting out old country songs. Usually the singer or band performs on the outside deck and you can enjoy looking at the moon and stars while they play but at this time of year the deck is closed off and owner Mario had a large gas grill blasting out heat. ‘I don’t think the regulators would be too happy to see that,’ Mike grinned, in a whispered aside.
Besides the music, Mike and I are always amused by the place which might best be described as electic/eccentric, filled as it is with pieces of seafaring and fishing paraphanelia, car and cinema seats, traffic lights, a stuffed owl and the odd Christmas decoration. The star of the show, I always think, is the parrot that perches in a large, open cage by the cash till and who sometimes chatters away and sings as the music plays. Mario’s wife often has the parrot on her shoulder as she cooks burgers and fried shrimp in a small kitchen near the ‘stage’ but on this particular evening she emerged as a cheer went up amongst the small crowd. I looked over and saw Mario arriving with a small man the size of a jockey but with a big smile on his face who reminded me of a small Mick Jagger (without the lips). The country singer soon left the ‘stage’ and lent this man his guitar who played to tumultuous applause and when he later signed the country singer’s guitar I said in a low tone to Mike, ‘Perhaps he’s famous.’ Then someone belted out, ‘Johnny Rodriguez!’ and Mike looked amazed: ‘I would never have recognized him’ he said.
Johnny Rodriguez, it turned out, was a famous Latin American country singer in the 1970s and 80s. In his career he released 26 albums, was honoured by three US presidents: Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush and George W Bush, and played at the latter’s inaugural ball. At the Oso Grill that wintry evening, Johnny Rodriguez’ voice might not have been what it was in his earlier career but it was such a sweet evening and you could have heard a pin drop as he played. As each of us went home later, I think we all felt touched by a little bit of magic.