A stream or creek emerged from the rock, and fell twenty feet into a small pool, in which lived a legendary large fish. From the pool, when there was rain, the outbound creek trickled and cut through a wide and expanding sandy basin.
To either side, the long arms of rocky shelf stretched, reaching down to meet the plain, and beyond, a hazard of tumbled woods, open plains, and a great and empty distance.
For us boys, this was Heaven.
For one thing, no grown-ups. For another, the mind could range free, because a quarter-hour hike took you beyond civilization. That is, beyond houses, roads, telephone poles. It was wild country, and roaming free in the Canyon, we were wild creatures.
With my gang of friends, on a long Saturday hike, eventually we became lost. We’d found some burrows near the bank of a winding stream. We’d crawled into these burrows, and back out again. We’d followed a blue racer, a dark-colored snake capable of great speed upon the grasslands. It ran from us and finally glided up into an ancient mesquite tree.
We’d walked through a wood, never seen before or since. When the sun was high overhead, we became disoriented. Opinion differed as to the correct direction. Just like in the horror movies, where the incredibly stupid people decide to split up, we decided to split up.
The reason being that three of us believed that town lay over that way, and the other four were pretty sure that the town lay over in this other direction. As it turned out, both groups made their way back to town. This was just perfect for a Saturday adventure for us boys. We felt like mighty woodsmen.
In early teen years, Bobby M. and I used to head out to the Canyon after school. We were learning to smoke cigarettes. It takes a certain amount of practice. We got pretty good at it.
Then things changed. In Texas, you can get a driver’s license at age 14 1/2, if you take Driver’s Ed. That summer following, Driver’s Ed was a popular class. Most of the mighty woodmen were there, going to school in the summer, because automobiles beckoned.
With licenses, we began importuning parents to drive the family car. Some earned and bought their own. With my parents help, I managed a green 1951 Chevrolet which my mom had traded on a Chrysler. I was very proud of this green car, and managed to get into a wreck soon after, the repairs of which gave me an outstanding two-toned color scheme.
The canyon? Forgotten. Abandoned. In all these years following, I’ve never been back, and I’ll wager the others haven’t either.
But don’t feel bad for the Canyon. All of us had younger brothers. Some of those had brothers younger still. And now, many of the mighty woodmen have sons, and these now grown up with boys of their own. No, the Canyon isn’t lonely.
You can trust boys. They will find the Canyon.