As I do often, especially in the early morning, I look to my right as I pass over the Loop 534 bridge between Bandera Highway and Memorial Boulevard.
Today the surface of the Guadalupe was calm and reflective, like a mirror, waiting for a fickle sky to react with an expression. I looked forward again, and the plum-colored silhouette of the VA Hospital stood in relief against a sky that was pink and powder blue.
Further along the loop connector between Memorial and Sidney Baker, I accelerate to the allowed 55 mph at the top of the hill. The smell of sulfur announces the water treatment plant to the right and, behind it, the mountainous landfill — almost the largest hills in this part of the Hill Country. With the exception of the hill with the Empty Cross on top. Kerrville’s top attraction according to Trip Advisor.
In New York we outsource our water treatment plants and landfills and incinerators to Staten Island, where most of the NYC cops and firefighters seem to live. (Perhaps that’s just where we outsource our first responders.) Or we send these unsightly facilities to the fringes of the Bronx along with the food delivery companies, whose trucks emit exhaust that the residents complain cause asthma and other health problems. And maybe they do. Living in a city causes health problems. Living itself causes health problems. I’ve heard it said that the number one cause of death is birth.
That said, you won’t find a water treatment plant at the intersection of Earl Garrett and Water Street, either.
As I collected my laundered shirts from Local Dry Cleaners — even though I could work from home in t-shirts most days, each dress shirt I soil and have cleaned and pressed puts a little food on someone else’s table — I turned east again, toward the increasing sun. It will be 89 degrees today.
The Hoegemeyer Animal Clinic building to the left could double as a gun shop — simple beige exterior with few windows — and a movie scout would do well to cut a deal with the Reno Realty Group a little farther up Sidney Baker and whose dark, rough-hewn façade could as easily be the backdrop for cowboys sporting spurs as for brokers with cellphones.
At the light, before the turn back onto Loop 534, is of course The YO Ranch Hotel and Conference Center.
Karen tells me the story of when she worked there 30-something years ago and there was a cattle auction. Leading the cattle into the hotel, they had to remove the double doors to the main banquet room and turn a longhorn steer sideways to get him through.