My grandparents’ ranch is on the Brazos river, a perpetually brown, sandy-bottom river outside Houston.

I’ve paced around its shores on trips to the ranch my whole life, and now we take our kids there and they do the same thing.  Its amazing to watch history repeat itself like that, and I’m happy to report that fossil-searching, stick-throwing, rock-skipping, shell-finding, mud-smearing, dam-building, and poking at things with sticks are all still going strong.

It’s been wet in Texas lately, and I found tons of animal tracks last time we were there.  Coyote, for example:

And racoon.  I love how much their paws look like hands.

And deer. I’m pretty sure.

And some crazily huge bird with stick-feet bigger than my son’s hands:

And somehow looking at those tracks got me thinking about all tracks I myself have left on this very beach–in Keds and cowgirl ropers and Adidas.  And then suddenly I was thinking about my grandparents, and all the years that have passed since they walked on this beach with us, and how much I miss them, and how much I would love it if they could come back, even just for an hour, and visit us and meet my kids.  It seems impossible to me that their lives didn’t overlap.  Especially when my daughter’s eyes are the exact  blue that my grandfather’s were, and my son’s eyes are the exact buttery brown of my grandmother’s.  How could they be connected so profoundly and never have even met?

But I guess that’s how it is with the past.  It really doesn’t leave enough behind.


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12 responses to “tracks

  1. Katherine

    I love this post. Beautiful pics and a beautiful, poignant sentiment. I often think about such things. I think about the other direction too – how my daughters will be grandmothers someday (“god willing,” as my jewish mother in law would say) and I might not know their grandchildren, those little people who will be SO special in their lives. We leave tracks in our stories, words, lessons – and we only get one lifetime to lay them down.

  2. Bev

    How I too would love to spend even one more hour with my grandparents; not a day goes by that I don’t wish that. Their legacy lives on through my husband and me though…we spend as much time as we possibly can opening new worlds and sharing experiences with our three grandkids…and treasuring the love they lavish back on us.

  3. Great post *and pics!*

    Love your blog so much I gave you an award! Go get it at

  4. knsweber

    I just thought of another angle: As a mother, I’m so grateful that MY mother is here to talk to and learn from about how to be a mother. I have questions for her I never realized I would have. But when I’m a grandmother or a great-grandmother …. she might not be here anymore. (Gulp.) And then how will I learn how to BE a grandmother or great-grandmother? Who will I turn to with all the questions? Maybe by that time, you have all the answers, or you realize the questions really are the answers, or something like that? Or maybe it will just be her example now – her tracks – that I will remember and rely on.

  5. Melissa

    beautifully said.

  6. The way you describe everything… this is what makes your writing so good. It takes me to the other side of a place where true perspective lives.

    – Julie

  7. txmomof3

    Love this. Never more true than for our generation, the first to wait until well into our 30’s or 40’s to start having kids. I wouldn’t start earlier evenif I could go back in time but I do wish my kids had known any of my grandparents. I also hope and pray all the time that I’ll live long enough to meet their children, considering that if my daughter waits until she’s 35 to have kids, I’ll be over 70.

    Thanks for this post. It is lovely.

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