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Whooping It Up

By John L. Brazell




We were two not-yet-dry-behind-the-ear kids, with a lot of gray in our hair, who got caught up in a “snipe” hunt. This time we laughed about it.


My wife and I got a hankering for an unhurried, uncluttered -- romantic in Dr. Phil speak -- look at the Texas coast and a taste of shrimp gumbo, oysters, spicy crab-cakes, soft shell crabs, and all things fishy. Autumn is a good time to do that. Though, we didn’t intend to eat up everything in the bay.


Rockport is a living Robert Wood Seascape thirty or so miles up the coast from Corpus Christi and a short drive and ferryboat float of similar distance from Port Arkansas. We Dallas-ites used to hook ‘em to North Padre Island and Arkansas for an annual charring of bodies -- AKA beaching -- through the years. We had never been to Rockport.


For those who depend on someone or something for entertainment in a big citified way this isn’t your place. Here, at least in the autumn, you get away from the superficiality, noise and chutzpa of the city. Yeah, you might call it a lower case Kennebunkport , a much lower case.


But you don’t need an Ivy League footprint to hang all ten on a fishing pier. Holding your sweetie’s hand, or a dog’s leash, or both, and strolling along the harbor, or throwing in a fishing line, are the best games going. Bird watching, just inhaling the fresh salty air and bay-gazing isn’t far behind.


Of this I’m sure, There are enough trawlers, sailboats and assorted pleasure crafts to create the effect Mr. Wood wanted for his paintings -- a stunning foreground for a stunning sunset.


There are more boardwalks, piers and fishing poles per windblown inhabitant than anywhere else in the world.

Don’t misunderstand. There are enough small art galleries, antique stores, assorted shops and a couple of museums for those who tire of hooking on some small marine life in favor of the thrill of catching a bigger marine life.


We even toured a stately mansion that was built by George Fulton (namesake for the county) who departed a long time ago. We learned about his 1870’s genius; the architecture, mahogany splendor and transom air-flow of the house -- and birth control. Yep, that’s what I said.


The friendly docent gave us a private tour of the 6500 square-foot architectural masterpiece, paused at the master bedroom and explained: “In those days the better mattresses were stuffed with horse hair, which was coarse and prickly. The hair penetrated the lining and got uncomfortable, particularly when turning over.”


And thrashing about, I thought.


“One of the early forms of birth control, eh?” I asked. There was a smile but no confirmation.


We arrived in the lobby of our “ Inn ” looking as tourist as Rodney Dangerfield, when a convivial local fellow answered our question directed to the front desk, “So what are the ‘can’t miss’ attractions around here?” 


“Well, you know the Whooping Cranes winter down here. If you’ll go over to Copano Cove you might see a ‘Pink Crane’ or in technical terms a ‘Sand Hill' Crane. Finding a pink feather is like finding a pot of gold.” 


Off we go with camera in hand as excited as two really big kids can get. We drove into every cove and marsh in the county only to find a few standard five-foot-tall white whooping cranes; a striking sight to see nonetheless. Tired and without a pink feather, we returned to the Inn , poured a glass of wine and walked to a prime viewing area. There I broke the news to my sweetie.


“Do you remember the stories about ‘Snipe’ hunting back in my youth? You know, the young and naive are sent into the woods to catch something that doesn’t exist. I just saw the guy who told us about pink cranes down at the bar laughing with his buddies.”


We peered over the shimmering harbor with its naked hoists, masts, jibs and spars saluting the sinking sun. The heavens as if on cue turned darker hues of blue, lavender, magenta and pink. “At least some things are pink”, I whispered.


We had another glass of wine and laughed.



Copyright John L. Brazell

* * * * *

A Texan by birth and the Grace of God. I'm quietly observing life and its strangeness in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, within spitting distance of Austin.


I retired after more than three decades of banging around in Corporate Ivory towers. It was liberating to finally sit through my last budget and board meetings. I'm now viewing and living the vagaries, and peculiarities, of a senior. Maybe I'll write about them, or something.

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