We arrived in San Saba, Texas, the Pecan Capital of the World, in the hot late afternoon, in time to check into our hotel and stash the packs filled with what we thought we’d need for the weekend. My fiancé, Andrew, and I wandered down the small town street while I sipped a cup of coffee from a waxed paper cup. Our reflections cast back in mirrored glass and revealed a late middle-aged couple dressed in comfortable, travel wrinkled clothes. We stretched our legs and popped joints stiff from the three hour drive. We did our best to outwit the Texas sunshine by dodging along the shade cast on the sidewalk from awnings over businesses closed for the holiday weekend. I set down the paperboard cup at last to step through the doorway and into Harry’s Boots.
The store, established in 1939, seemed to fill half the city block. Shelves and racks lured shoppers with pearl snapped and buttoned western shirts in peacock colors or solemn, solid dyes. Sturdy denim jeans, in every size that man or woman might exist, lay neatly stacked and folded into cubbies along the walls. But the main attractions, and those which filled the space with the heady fragrance of leather and the clean, sharp scent of saddle soap and polish, were the boots.
Boots in sizes dainty through durable, made from every type of hide imaginable. Boots from alligator, ostrich, lizard, goat, buffalo, and rattlesnake. I would not miss this last, but I cringed to pick up a pair labeled “elephant.” We left after browsing through rooms crowned with hats, straw and Stetson, felt and ten gallon, fit for cowboys, cattle barons, and weekend tourists with money to spare.
Too early for dinner, we cruised down the road to Llano, leaving the San Saba River behind and seeking the Llano in the city that bore its name. We hiked along the river bank and wondered at sculptures woven into the landscape, they seemed to have sprung up like the wildflowers, unassisted by human hands.
Back in San Saba we walked again, this time along a concrete trail through a park along a different river and through stands of pecan trees whose branches weaved overhead like lovers holding hands. Twilight came upon us while we bickered over which path led back to our car. Andrew held out his phone for a flashlight as we traced our steps back, past neon yellow bursts from fireflies waking to search for love. A family of deer lifted their ears and paused in their grazing to mutely ask what we thought we were up to, lingering so long near sundown.
Safely back in our room at the Dofflemyer Hotel, I pushed back the curtains to look down upon a street I imagined traveled by horses instead of Hondas. We turned in early after a snack of pecans roasted in butter and salt and left for us instead of mints on the pillow. I dreamed of Texas, a big land for sure, to hold those whose faith and fitness drew them here. Like the pecan I am native with roots that tap to green river water. If others wonder why I so long linger here, I’ll take a breath to remember the scent of leather boots, the charm of fireflies at dusk, and the graceful bend of prairie grass to wind.