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Lost Maples Found

by N. Ray Maxie
N. Ray Maxie
Have you ever laid on a large flat rock beside a babbling brook on a warm sunny afternoon? It can be a heavenly place of solace and respite; chicken soup for the soul. A most pleasant time of reflection upon things like, where you've been and the goals you have or have not accomplished in life. Plus, it's a super good time for daydreaming and just thinking. Laying on that rock in the warm sunshine thinking about your future and life as a whole. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where have I been? What am I doing here? Where am I going and how do I get there from here? The answers to which only God can give over time as you bask in meditation. Many frequent visits to your place of respite may be needed, especially for me.

As your mind and body relaxes upon that rock to the soothing sounds of water, the warm sunshine and singing birds, your thoughts slowly meander, slower and slower. Before long you drift into a deep, most restful and refreshing slumber. Be it for only a couple of minutes or for a couple of hours, you will most certainly awaken fully refreshed and with a much clearer mind. You notice the brook is still babbling, the sun is still shining and the birds are still singing. Nothing has changed there except your peace of mind and outlook for the future. Every day brings a new beginning in life and you are ready to go on.

People that take the time to do this one little important thing usually have their favorite spot in mind. There are perhaps many spots that will work for you, but one is a most favorite, I know. My favorite spot of all from my extensive travels in this great country, is one I have found to be convenient and a most perfect spot for my wife and me, especially in the fall of the year. Convenience is important in that you might be able to visit the place more frequently to enjoy your peaceful leisure. Remember that was the life and environment Henry David Thoreau used Walden Pond for. My dear parted mother, for many years, called her quite times, "luxurious solitude".

I have found a few good spots that are quite pleasant along the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. Other spots are in the Great Smokey Mountains, on the Nantahala River, or maybe along the Ocoee River or in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, or on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shanandoah Valley. And in my mind, not the least of these places is Hot Springs, Arkansas. There my wife and I spent our honeymoon forty-seven and one half years ago. (I must say that's almost half a century ago) There in the Blue Ouachita Mountains, the Blow Out Mountain and along the Ozark range are some very lovely places to commune with nature. And, by the way, the Ozark Mountain Range is the only mountain range in the USA that runs east and west. But remember, and most importantly, at least for me, it takes convenience and some nicely flowing water. The sound of the flowing is key. Water creates some mighty good, soothing magical feelings that soon serves to mesmerize me and over comes me with tranquility.

My most favorite spot of all is in "Lost Maples State Park" near the heart of Texas Hill Country in south central Texas. That is two hours due west of San Antonio. Lost Maples State Park is mighty close to Utopia. Matter of fact it is about ten miles north of Utopia, Texas, and only four miles north of Vanderpool on highway FM 187. That makes it about forty miles southwest of Kerrville, Texas. While visiting that area, if needed, my family and I can usually find a motel room easily. We like to make reservations ahead, at Bandera, also known as "The Cowboy Capitol of Texas", or in Kerrville or maybe in Leakey. (pronounced Lake-ee).

Lost Maples State Park is an amazing natural phenomenon. The name comes from the Big Tooth maple trees growing there that are so very, very far removed from their ordinary natural habitat. They are thus known be lost maples. Seeds from somewhere afar, perhaps back east or up north, have found their way to this natural fault line. There is a cliff or rocky bluff that provides protection and a small natural area for these maples to grow. Along its northeastern edge is the protected ravine for a distance of somewhat less than a mile and maybe only two hundred feet wide That protected area shielded by the fault provides the right natural environment that the Big Tooth maple tree likes and nowhere else around is it found.

A small trickling brook known as the Sabinal River gently flows through some large rocks and along the valley floor. It provides water for an abundant forest of those beautiful maple trees to grow. I have noticed that even the smallest creeks or brooks in some parts of the Texas Hill Country are known as rivers. Of course the farther they flow across the countryside, the larger stream they become.

In late autumn around the first to the middle of November the beautiful maple leaves turn brilliant colors of bright red, orange and some yellow. It is such a beautiful sight almost resembling the entire valley being ablaze. A mortal passerby like me can only gawk in wonderment and amazement. Then as those leaves later begin to drop to the ground, the entire valley floor becomes carpeted with their colorful beauty.

And where am I while nature is taking its course in this quite little valley? Why, I'm lying over there on that flat rock, of course, looking heavenward with my head up in the clear blue sky. While lying there, as I begin to doze off, my arm soon goes limp and my hand falls along side the rock. I can feel the cool trickling water of the brook flowing through my dangling fingertips.

Don't wake me; I'm dreaming. Don't let my dream world end.
N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray"
April 1, 2006 Column

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