These are dunes on South Padre Island, where I made a couple of presentations to the Friends of the Library on Saturday. Great groups, a terrific brunch (the quiche was made from China's recipe), and plenty of good talk about books and the importance of libraries. Many thanks to Margie and Carolyn for inviting me--oh, and to Pamela for the great CDs, that made my drive home enjoyable. I had a good time, met some wonderful people, and even got in a couple of beach walks.
South Padre is a barrier island on the Gulf, at the southern tip of Texas. My first visit there was in 1973. There were a flurry of visits--mostly fishing trips--during the 70s, the latest in 1997. When I first started going to the Island, there was a small settlement, a couple of hotels, and mostly beach and wild places along the lagoon. There's been a great deal of new development since then: high-rise hotels and condos, new restaurants, etc. (You can guess how I feel about that.)
Walking on the beach, feeling gloomy about the trash, the development, and people's careless attitude toward this beautiful place, I met a guy on an ATV riding "sea turtle patrol." Turns out that there's an active turtle rescue operation on the island that cares for and rehabilitates injured turtles, protects turtle eggs, and educates the local folk about the importance of these creatures. Do check out the website, especially the page on the sea turtles. Kemp's Ridley is our native Texas sea turtle--native, because the females return to Texas beaches to lay their eggs. I felt differently about the Island after I learned about the turtle rescue. Clearly, some people do care, and are willing to work hard to save whatever can be saved.
But the tide of development is too strong to be resisted, I'm afraid. The Island road has been extended, and the property along both sides of it--wild dunes, lagoon shore--is all for sale. If I go back in another ten years, will all the wild places be paved over?
Home again, but only briefly. This week and next: Borders in Austin, the library in Columbus TX, the Master Gardeners' Conference at Conroe, Murder by the Book in Houston, Arbor Gate in Tomball, Blinn College for the Lifetime Learning Luncheon, and the library at Angleton TX. All the details are here. Hope to see you if I'm in your neighborhood.
Reading note: Bearing witness to both the beauty and the pain of our world is a task I want to be part of. As a writer, this is my work. By bearing witness, the story that is told can provide a healing ground. Through the art of language, the art of story, alchemy can occur. And if we choose to turn our backs, we've walked away from what it means to be human.--A Voice in the Wilderness, Terry Tempest Williams