Okay, last time I had just started a new series, this one about a recent day trip of ours to a little town-qua-art & tourist community known as Salado, Texas. It is only about twenty to thirty minutes away from where we live, and it was a Saturday, so why not? What did we have better to do?
Well, actually, what we could have done is been sensible and stayed home and sat in front of the air conditioner...or, we’ve got a kiddie splash pad, which is sort of like a kiddie pool, except it attaches to a hose and sprays you with water and it is actually, kinda, well, neat. With it, a large patio umbrella, and a deck chair, Martha can be pretty darn comfortable. I will not post photos of Martha sprawled out in her chair under the sprinklers. I respect her far too much to reproduce such undignified images of her...sprawled, semi-comatose, like some marine mammal trying to stay cool in the brutal heat on a rock-lined shore. Respect, yes sir. You betcha.
And besides, she’d kill me.
Where was I? Oh, yes. It’s very, very hot here as I write this (on July 17, 2022). We’re in the third week of triple digit temperatures. And that factor, all by itself, almost led us not to go. You see, Salado is a fine little town, with lots of cool shops and cafes to be explored. But, the easiest way to see it all is by walking. And right now, when it is hotter ’n blue blazes, that’s not a real good idea.
This is from a more recent trip to Salado, specifically yesterday (October 27, 2022). We went for yet another visit, and this time had lunch at McCain's Bakery & Cafe (417 N Main St, Salado, TX 76571). Try the chocolate cream pie if you go. Worth the visit.
So that means you either tour in your car, or you rent a golf cart -- yes, you can do that, and I gather that it is a quick and easy way of exploring the town. (I’ve never used them, but Salado Golf Cart Rentals gets some pretty good reviews. Check out their webpage here: https://saladogolfcartrentals.com/ and their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/saladogolfcartrentals). The downsides of using a golf cart, though, are that, first, you have to compete with full-sized cars on the street, and, second, that you are still exposed to the elements--which, in Texas, in the summer, can be pretty darn elemental.
Still, it might be fun. Sometime...in the Fall...we might have to give it a try.
Instead, we elected on a kind of combination system. We would drive our car, park, hustle out buns into a few shops in a specific area, hustle our buns back out to the car, and then drive to the next specific areas where we’d hit a few more shops. Sort of a bunny hop kind of strategy. With just a touch of grasshopper. In a desert. During a heatwave. Like, the heatwave from h@ll.
Anyway...after we got to town, we decided that we would work backwards. Usually, we visit the shops on Main, eat lunch, and then head up to our favorite spot in the area, Fletcher’s Books and Antiques.
But, today, no. We wanted to be certain we actually got there. We wanted to be certain that after we had shopped and eaten, we didn’t look up and say, “Gosh, we’re tired...” and go home.
And that would have been a shame because we’d been trying to get back to Fletcher’s for ages. We’d been there a couple of times, but then, lockdown intervened. And we hadn’t been back. Which saddened us, because it is one of those places that you simply must see, and, if possible visit repeatedly.
So, we headed North up Main...past the shops, and the restaurants, and the microbrewery.
Until we came, at last, almost to the end of town...specifically, 945 North Main Street, and the low rambling building which is Fletcher’s. And, if you look carefully behind it, you’ll see the Episcopal Church, St. Joseph’s, almost hidden away in the garden.
How to describe Fletcher’s? Like the name says, it is a bookstore and an antiques shop. But it is way more than that. It is a glorious mess. The front rooms are piled floor to ceiling with antiques and artifacts. The back rooms are, similarly, piled floor to ceiling with books. And when I say that the rooms are piled floor to ceiling, I mean it. It is one vast mass of precious things.
In fact, it can be quite difficult to walk around in the place. There isn’t a lot of clear space.
That was, actually, why we had delayed visiting Fletcher’s for several months. The reality is that the shop was simply too crowded for Martha to fit into with her walker, much less her wheelchair. Then, even when she was able to move about again on her own, there was the issue of falling, and there is much in the place over which to, as it were, fall.
I must confess, I was really worried about her as we parked. This would be a first. She had traveled to Durham, been to Fort Worth and San Antonio, and had scores of other adventures...but this was different. This was a time when she was entering a space that might or might not be safe...
And well...shall I be blunt? All right, I will. Sometimes...sometimes...Martha does not pay quite enough attention to her feet. When there are a thousand interesting things to see in the world -- books, antiques, paintings, sculptures, flowers, wonderful things of beauty and cunning...she is, shall we say, distracted. And, when that happens, sometimes, there are issues, of, well, stability. She tends to not see things that she shouldn’t step on. Or in.
So it was that when we parked in the little unpaved lot out front, which overlooks the wall...which separates the lot from the garden, and the Church beyond... and we headed for the door of Fletcher’s...
I was just a little...every so slightly...afraid.
But that’s for next time.
Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker
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