Head straight down the Scenic Loop and take a right midway between Leakey and Camp Wood. A gravel road snakes between live oaks, cedars, and mountain laurels. After driving at a crawl over ruts and dry creek beds for about a mile, a cabin hides behind a row of plump cedars.
The place, constructed from a metal office building, looks unassuming. A huge screened-in porch juts from the front, its lattice now gray with age. Directly in front of the building squats our fire pit where we grill steaks or build s’mores.
Our hill country place rests on twenty-six acres of solitude. When sitting out front, the whispers of the wind fingering through leaves blend with bird song. No traffic passes by, and even a dragonfly’s wing beating the breeze creates a soft purr.
Hills tuck the cabin into a protected pocket, and two dry creeks zigzag through the acreage, providing a safe route for spring floods. Trails, worn on the hills and down the gullies by deer and wild boar, offer private paths for the hiker.
Every visit, we make our way gradually around the perimeter of the property, checking the condition of the fence line. We stop at the pinion pines, pause at the highest summit behind the cabin and remember our first camp snugged among the live oak and mountain laurel. Gratitude floods through me for the legacy of this land. Older memories than my own hide in fossils and formations, revealing the layered evolution of our world.
For twenty years, my feet have walked the rocky paths. First visits, we pitched tents, living close to the land. Later, the cabin allowed us to ease in luxuries like electricity. Inside, always left ready for the next visit, reside quilted comforts and soft beds. With no television, radio, or cell phone reception, life’s pressures subside within hours of arrival. The seclusion of the cabin nurtures imagination and inspires reflection. It is my Walden Pond.