Saturday, June 13, 2009

This Part of Texas ~ This Season of My Life

This Part of Texas, This Season of My Life As I watch the west central Texas sun set on a cold, crisp afternoon, the meaning of the name of this particular place where I live now creeps into vision. Lake Ft. Phantom Hill, named after the cavalry fort just a couple of miles west and north of the lake upon which so far, I have spent this sad and lonesome winter. I feel like what I imagine one of the other soldiers who lived here might have felt, a member of their unit, one of their own, a kindred soul and fellow soldier indeed. Only one hundred and fifty or so years removed we are, a tick in the infinity of time. They too were missing their wives, children and homes they too looked skyward as I now do as the shadows creep, on a wind-blown night when clouds are dashed against the moon. Starlight flickers, conjures visions, summons those restless phantoms of days before. Before the eyes of my imagination these ghost do indeed return, those vapor forms of Indian, Spaniard, Texan, dragoon, rebel, outlaw; mixed and mingled shades now stalk my present. Faintly the shouts and din of battle I can still hear, lingering from those old winds, at times, when I walk this ground. The smell of horses and gunpowder hangs in this dust; an old musket ball, misshapen from impact and broken bit of arrow tip conjure the hushed moans of the wounded or perhaps the courageous aching silence of my dead comrades, my brothers in arms. Each step of my boots on this ground stirs the ashes of soldiers. It is said a portion of their spirit encamps here for all time. I can feel the euphoria of a warrior’s victory here, blended with the ancient thump of drum-beat and campaign, of bugle and shout, of sacrifice and duty’s loneliness, of unsung valor, of grief and sadness that rend tears now as it did then. My tears mingle with the dust within which the salt from their eyes surely remains, bonding our misery as surely as the feelings of desperation now bond our souls. Like all soldiers now I feel the comradeship forged from war’s hard wire. A price for the future they paid here on this ground. A price for my past I now remit to the same soil. I now in my turn, become the past. Here was the sharp, dangerous and deadly edge of the frontier for our country. Ft. Phantom now becomes the rough, unyielding and painful birthplace of my frontier. Ft. Phantom and my dead brothers now turn my head to the sunset horizon. Not the Texas sunset, but mine.

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