Alum Creek--A Clearing / by Glenn Whitehead

Alum Creek--A Clearing

by Glenn Whitehead

Excerpted from Texas Coop Power Magazine November 2002

While driving around the Alum Creek area of Bastrop County I saw a clearing and lone chimney. I parked my van and stared at it for a while, then walked to it as though it were a magnet and I were a sliver of iron.

When you stand in the clearing, you're standing in someone's private space, I feel it. The kids slept right about here. Take a few steps; this is where the family sat down to dinner. And the chimney, solitary as a totem pole, slightly tilted, useless, a monument to --what?

Another failed farm? An Indian raid? (Although it's not that old, I know.) The Great Depression? Or nothing more than boredom. People do move on.

Truth is, the clearing interests me more than the old chimney, but the chimney is a useful focal point. Whether deep in the woods or out on the open prairie, clearings, you see, are so very, very human. Humans need their clearings.

And here, just outside the cabin's perimeter, right where I'm setting up my easel, a man stood breathing in the night air, trying to get over another disappointing day or thanking God for a good one. Over there, to my left, a woman planted things you wouldn't normally find in Bastrop County. They lasted only for a few years, but for a few years they looked right good. And here, where I've planted my feet, here kids looked up at the stars. 

One way or another, I'm trespassing, I know that, but now the hair on the back of my neck is standing up. Something is here, I feel it. Just paint the picture, I say to myself, go to work. Hope the fire ants don't find me; this is going to take a while.


Glenn Whitehead lives in Smithville where he paints and writes. His paintings are in many private and corporate collections throughout the state.

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