The bamboo is marching voraciously through the Texas heat here on Creekside Farms Road, wrapping around the party barn and heading toward the main house. There is now a sixty-foot trail through a bamboo forest to the next door neighbor who planted it thirty years ago.
Creekside Farms Road is an oasis, a retreat from the city that surrounds it. The city has discovered it and just raised the taxes 400-800% and the residents are freaking out and trying to protest the rise. All the apartment buildings nearby would gladly continue to deforest the land and obliterate this little paradise at the edge of Austin. Speculators call often trying to buy this parcel where I have been staying the last few days, a lush acre above a turtle-loving pond.
The bamboo has swallowed up a shed and other piles of wood and supplies as it spreads toward the house. Wandering around stoned the first night I cut a trail to the old radio station shed at midnight. The next day I talked to the owner who has been cutting it down little by little and dragging it up to the nearby forest to compost.
“I think you need a crew,” I said. “A few strong young men.” I looked online and found a tree guy nearby. He came by a few hours later and said he and his crew of three could do a day of cutting and removal for $600. They would cut it down with chainsaws. “She doesn't have much money,” I said. “I wanted to contribute $300 to get the bamboo removed, see how far that went in one day.”
The guy said he could come by later in the week to do the job and after he left Jenny agreed to match my $300. “This might be the best offer you get,” I said. “Jenny, you are always helping others, putting yourself out there, so I'm glad to give back something to you.” I was crashing in the party barn and sharing it with a rat or mouse family as well as a Texas-sized spider. “For example, right now you have your mechanic's crazy son living in the camper in your back yard.”
“Friends tell me to get rid of him but there's no where for him to go. He got kicked out of his group home a couple months ago and has been here ever since,” she said.
“Jenny, that's not your responsibility,” I said. “There are hundreds, thousands of people with nowhere to go.”
Yesterday afternoon he was screaming, freaking out, and Jenny texted his parents who come by every day to bring him food, usually a bag of McDonalds. He sits in the trailer all day and night and rarely comes out. “Well if it doesn't bother you then it's nice that you can provide a troubled guy some sanctuary.”
“He took some bad drugs, I think,” she said. “His parents are illegal and it's hard for them to figure out what to do with him. No, it's not a good situation, him alone there all day.” Her teenage son came into the kitchen to get something to eat.
“Well, this is a good cross-cultural experience for you Luc,” I said.
“Cultural?” he said.
I paused and thought about it. “Well, we all have our own cultures. His is drugged out crazy and yours is studious stability,” I said. “The lesson your mom is giving you is to care about and try to help those in need. Would you like him to leave?”
“I just want him to get better,” he said.
Down by the pond at night unidentified creatures speak, sing and croak across the water. It's a duet with the sounds of traffic on I-35 a couple miles away, reflecting the buzzing economy. Creekside Farms Road feels like the heart of Austin. This little country road and this verdant acre is the jewel of Creekside Farms, a little paradise hanging on against the forces of development.
(I'm pretty lucky I guess, if I couldn't stay here another friend has an old mansion downtown near the university. The last time I stayed there I had ten rooms and five baths all to myself. It was hectic running around trying to poop and pee in all of them.)