The forgotten Lenape

IMG_0240Though my office at the moment (3:22pm) is PAX Coffee & Goods, with the photo of Johnny Cash strolling into Folsom Prison in 1968 facing me, for my 1:30pm call with our consultant I chose the luxury of sitting in the Dallas Daughtry Memorial Pavilion.

So that you don’t have to Google him, Mr. Daughtry was a local, died relatively young (57) from cancer, and one of the things his obituary noted stood out: “…he loved God by loving people: his family, employees, and countless people who thought of him as their best friend.” If more creatures on Earth than your dog counts you as their best friend, you’ve done something both rare and eternal. Apparently, Mr. Daughtry found the key to living successfully.

But this pavilion was my office for an hour-long phone call, and a pleasant, if warming, hour it was.

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This photo was untouched except for converting it to BxW. The reflection of the trees at right was crisp; the sun sparkling off the water was pointillistic; the variation of greens in the river was distinct; the blues of the sky and whites of the clouds were in high contrast.

Below me, a group of five people waded across from the town side of the river to the park side, carrying red 5-gallon buckets. Downstream, a man kicked water at his black dog, which each time whirled delightfully around in a circle in mid-air. Just north of the dam, two people swam near the park shore. This is Tuesday, midday, in September, during school hours, downtown. Swimming at midday sounds awfully good to me.

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One end of the Goodnight-Loving Trail was north and a little west of Kerrville.

When taking a picture of these trail maps, I failed at the time to note the name of one in particular that I find enticing: The Goodnight-Loving Trail. It sounds a bit like “Lovers Lane,” right? Not really. “Spanning” from Texas to Wyoming — and you know whenever the Lone Star State is included in a “span,” the distance is automatically doubled — the trail was blazed by Charles Goodnight (a former Ranger) and Oliver Loving (a cowboy) in the 1860s, before names like “Goodnight” or “Oliver” would curry little street cred in this “dangerous Indian territory.” (I can imagine “Goodnight” being a nickname for a Western gunslinger. E.g. Jesse ‘Goodnight’ Mcgillicuddy. “My apologies for the spill, Mr. Mcgillicuddy, sir, your next whiskey’s on me.”)

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A view from the Water Street entrance to the pavilion looking southwest over the Guadalupe and Louise Hays Park.

And while we’re on the subject of “Indians” — also known as people whose forebears were here “umpteen generations” before them and not just “3” or “5” or “10” generations before — there’s a special posture Texans have with this group of fellow humans. There seems to be a yoked disregard and deep respect. A disregard that, by golly, we’re going to take this land and make our shingles (as they did in Kerrville) or raise our cattle (everywhere else) and

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Alabaster sculpture by Oreland Joe at The Museum of Western Art on Bandera Highway.

shoot you right between the eyes if we need to. But a respect that honors the way of life, the art, the humanity, the “co-existingness” — as contradictory as that sounds — of the indigenous peoples. Many Texans still live close to the land and, living so, they regard the land itself, animals, and other people differently than does the average city dweller who chooses his meat and people off the shelf and as easily discards them into the waste bin when no longer needed. The Dutch took “Mannahatta” island from the Lenape Indians and, as far as I know, there’s not a Dutch or English descendant in New York City who doesn’t think that Lenape is a mispronounced coffee drink.

There’s an ecology in Texas, almost a closed and sustainable ecosystem, that eludes me.

I may understand it in time.

I won’t understand why Texans drink Big Red. Nasty stuff.

I hope we can agree on that.

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