‘Hey, Louise, we need to find us a cliff.’
That’s my sister-in-law, Thelma. Not her real name. But it kinda suits her.
He’s a cat with attitude.
Cattitude, you might say.
‘I seen me a vineyard out in that there hill country,’ drawls Thelma, ‘What say we go get us a glass o’ that chilled chard-o-nnay?’
I say, a helluva a lot better than driving off a cliff. I mean, this isn’t Groundhog Day. And, fortunately, neither is it Thelma and Louise.
It started about five or six years ago. Not enough room for us all in one car so Thelma and I took off, on our own, in hers.
It’s weird what even a tiny pinch of rebellion can do. Like a shaking of salt in a tasteless soup. Take a different turn on the way home, play some country music and – whoosh – we’re two wild women out of a film.
But let’s be clear, we don’t rob or shoot. Though I did buy a copy of ‘Western Shooting Journal’ at the HEB supermarket in Dripping Springs.
‘Duck Dynasty,’ runs the headline.
‘Guns, God and the pursuit of happiness,’ they add by way of explanation.
You just have to find out more, don’t you?
Well, how about, ‘Archery Zombie Safari,’ then?
I give up.
Back to the quest for wine.
We’re driving through Texas hill country – and it puts me in mind of Africa. Sparse grasses. Parched-looking trees, haloed with dusty green. Tough as they come. You wouldn’t pick a fight with one out of choice.
Thelma takes a left turn and soon we’re trailing dust. It’s a pretty good dirt track that snakes on up, through a lush-looking vineyard, to the top of the hill (no cliff). We stop. There’s one other car.
An earnest looking couple sits in the shade, heads nearly touching, sipping from long-stemmed glasses. We leave them to their intimacy.
The winery’s a low stone building, cool in the heat of the afternoon. We walk out (after paying, I told you we don’t rob) with two bottles of dry-ish Muscat – well, two bottles minus two glasses. They hold the chilled liquid we sip on the hill.
We should have chosen the shade. But that couple’s still there. Thelma takes the glasses back and I sit, silent, scanning the valley below.
It’s a good job the cliff thing’s a joke. I ain’t ready to die yet and anyways, the hills round here are pretty minor. Drive off and we’d probably just roll to the bottom and crawl out with terrible injuries.
‘Let’s go back the usual way, down the road, shall we?’ I say, as the air-con kicks in.
As we sit on the deck that evening watching the sky, the searing sun vanishes. Clouds move in across the entire horizon. A strong wind blows the weather up north and lightning flashes across the sky – a hundred miles away.
The thunder misses us. The tornado misses us. But a lot of people in Oklahoma will lose their lives tonight.
I won’t be joking about dying again, not any time soon.