One can see joy when Bedouin travelers top a mountain of sand and wind their way down to an oasis with date trees, water, and a flat place to set up tents, unroll hand woven rugs, and build small fires in the enormous desert night. This courtyard is the same, a quiet place to retreat from hot summers, a place where summer winds are deflected by brick walls and critters can’t get inside to eat the roses. The courtyard has been a work in progress and it changes, like those deserts where yesterday’s path is covered up by last night’s windstorm.  This courtyard has a fountain, flowers, yard decorations, lounge chairs, a Texas state flag, and privacy. It is reminiscent of Cartegena or Cuenca where, behind great wooden doors reinforced with iron bars, there are luxurious compounds where children ride bikes, women hang up clothes on the line, and old men smoke cigars in mid afternoon under the porch when it is too hot to be watching girls in neighborhood cafes. When I visit Alan’s place, we sit on the front porch and listen to the fountain and recall when we used to visit here during vacation summers and drive a beat up jeep on rutted dirt roads across cattle pasture to fish in stocked cattle tanks. We would try to hit cow patties in the road and laugh as we hit them. Our grandparent’s farm, a mile due east, has been neglected and was recently buried into the prairie by a bulldozer. Uninhabited, for years, mice took over the living quarters and it was decided by the new owner that the old homestead couldn’t be rehabbed and wasn’t worth saving. Alan likes Texas so much he made it his own oasis. Peace and quiet are to be sought and fought for.  
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