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and Associates 1117 West 5th Street Austin, Texas 78703 REALTOR \(1 Representing all types of properties in Austin and Central Texas Interesting & unusual property a specialty. 477-3651 E I k i and curls on the blunt plain between her eyes. She continued to stare at me from beneath the awnings of her long, white, girlish lashes and then convinced that I had no feed for her behind my back moved off heavily to the salt blocks, imperturbable as Nero. She looked back at me once unblinking, stoic, almost godlike: light years away. * * Byron and I were at the cabin in June when it began to rain a light afternoon sprinkling out of a lowered gray sky. We listened to the rain on the tin roof, and through the doorway we could hear it touch the cement slab of the porch and hit against the weeds and the rustred barrels a pleasant, steady sound that made me sink into the doorway chair and Byron roll over into his cotton quilt. He pulled the quilt close and curled on his side and slept with a 16 year-old’S peacefulness as thunder rolled mildly in the west. Xanadu, his dog, slept on the floor beside him, her legs out straight, her muzzle touching his white running shoes. I sat in the doorway in the satisfying quiet of a summer rain. No sheep bawled in the pasture. No planes passed overhead. We were there in our little pasture world: a private place of cedars and oaks, drizzle on the tin roof, Byron’s steady breathing. * * ‘ In the late afternoon, as if welling out of the heat and the waning sunlight, a dove began calling. It was like an escaped breath from the land itself, an unobtrusive, suggestive voice saying, “Do you remember? Do you still care?” Like a tide coming in to shore, the dove call flowed so evenly through the trees it was as if I had thought the call rather than heard it. I followed the call, somewhat. I walked toward it down the dry creek bed west of the pens, then looked back to the clearing of the cabin and the remains of my father’s old feed store truck there beside it. I stood beneath the walnut trees, on the layer of smooth rock where we had once had family picnics, and I thought: How do you repay a pasture, a clump of trees, the sun? What can you give them for making your life worthwhile? The dove called, again and again, taking me deeper into the mood of the silent rocks and lengthening shadows. As night fell, it seemed to me that the only way to give a proper thanks to repay the earth was to keep on paying it close attention. To keep looking hard at creation and saying: Yes, I see. * * * “Chi-ink. Chi-ink.” Gregorio was digging post holes in a layer of rock. “Chi-ink. Chi-ink.” I saw him on the fenceline morning and afternoon blue cap, red shirt in the sunshine-and-shade. He maintained a smooth, swaying little rhythm, almost a dance step: feet in place, swinging a bit from side to side as he sent the crowbar twisting down. Each morning he got up at six, made breakfast in his tent, and was there at the fenceline as I rolled over in my sleeping bag outside the hunting cabin door. “Chi-ink. Chi-ink. Chi-ink. Chiink. At noon he would stop and come back slowly toward the pens, walking past his row of cedar posts gleaming ivoryand-brown in the sunlight. He would eat and rest in the tent, then walk back to his crowbar and gloves. “Chi-ink. Chi-ink.” The afternoon shadows deepened, the sun lost its glare, doves scouted above the walnut-tree arroyo, and Gregorio worked at the fenceline, cutting cedar trees, stripping and shaping posts aligning, tamping them until they were solidly in place: as if made of rock themselves. He would stop working just before dark and come to the water lot to fill his bucket at the windmill pipe. Sometimes he pushed back his cap at 53, his hair remarkably full and black and smoked a Bugler cigarette and we talked about the cows, or cedar ticks, or the spread of purple thistles in the pastures. He spoke deliberate and carefully enunciated Spanish. Once, when we were talking about sports, I mentioned that my son had become a cross-country runner at his high school. Gregorio talked at length almost didactically about fitness programs for athletes and the Olympic trials he had watched on Mexican television. He said his sons had also been runners in school. When our conversation died away and he finally lifted his bucket and headed toward his tent, the bulibats had begun to sweep over the water lot and katydids were flashing their messages in the darkening trees. . . .Gregorio: I think of him and the other lives he might have led. I see him seated behind a desk, an investment broker giving measured, articulate advice to a client. I see him in the dugout of a semi-professional baseball team, his silk manager’s shirt fitting tightly over his thick chest and muscular arms. As I drive down a city street or have coffee in a cafe, I hear his crowbar biting into rock; I see oak tree shadows sliding across his blue cap and sweat-circled red shirt. A cardinal flashes through the cedars, a buzzard coasts in the midsummer sky, and Gregorio makes another envelope of dollars he can send to his sister in Piedras Negras. “Chi-ink. Chi-ink. Chi-ink. Chiink. ” Alone in the pasture, from daylight till dark, Gregorio digs through hill country rock. I listen, and he is like a myth that keeps growing in my mind. II BED & BREAKFAST CORPUS CHRISTI Take a break from the sameness of motel accom modations. Over 20 listings, many within walking distance of the water. Friendly, hospitable hosts. Breakfasts continental to Texas-size. Rates from $20. Sand Dollar Hdspitality, 3605 Mendenhall, Cm ANDERSON & COM1’ANYI COFFEE TEA SPICES Two JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS ‘Mil 512 453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23