Last Saturday, my friend Tom came up from Austin for a brief visit. It's amazing how much you take for granted until you look at it through fresh eyes, and that was the opportunity I had while playing "tour guide" to Tom.
He arrived just as I was preparing to put out funeral notices, so he joined me in walking about the square. We in Mason take the funeral notices for granted as our method of finding out about those who have recently passed away. Tom was amused, but also impressed, as he could not remember ever having seen it done elsewhere.
Walking around the square, particularly on a Saturday morning, is a very social affair. There are folks coming and going running their errands, and there is the bustle of traffic heading to and fro. As we left the News office and headed clockwise about the square, Tom was treated to the ubiquitous friendliness of Mason residents - almost everyone waves or says hello. Since Tom has been in television in Austin for years, he also had to put up with folks staring at him, trying very hard to place why he looked so familiar.
Since I keep the walking tour of the square updated for our visitors' guides, I was able to give him a running commentary about the buildings around town during our walk. That was interspersed with quick asides about some of the people that stopped to chat ("She's my sister-in-law." "That's the mayor's wife." "I think that's the only shirt he ever wears.")
We met up with Peanut, Ken and Sean and went to lunch over at Northside Cafe. If you've never lunched with that crowd, you will have to simply take my word that it can be a raucous bunch, and the meal was a lively event.
The three of them headed out to Sean's while I took Tom down to the James River crossing, and then a quick side trip down to Scott Zesch's place on Peter's Creek (though Scott wasn't home, I figured two authors would enjoy some of the same things). Tom had his camera out and was capturing the bluffs and cliff swallows, and got to see the rivers running full and clear.
We then headed out to Camp Air, as Tom has a chapter in his new book about rock fences, and I knew we could get some great shots of those along Highway 87 between Ranch Road 1222 and Katemcy Road. We headed over to Sean's on 1222 and got a fantastic shot of Harkey's longhorn cattle grazing along the way.
Once at Sean's, all five of us loaded up in the Mule and began a tour through the pasture. The tanks were full to overflowing, the cows were curious and friendly, and Tom got to listen to a typical Saturday afternoon of conversation between "the gang."
By the time I got Tom back to his car in front of Grosse's (early enough that he could get to Austin before the deer became obstacles) he had gotten a true taste of Mason. In the process, I had the pleasure of giving myself multiple reminders about why I love my town, my county, my neighbors and my friends.
If you ever start to wonder why we are here, why we sometimes struggle to make ends meet, why we don't go "where the money is," invite a guest to visit and play tour guide. Some times, the only way to see things clearly is through new eyes, and you'll be pleased at the view.
It’s all just my opinion.