You know what it is— don’t you— to be so smitten with a person, place, or thing that you just have to take a second look? Then, when you do, it’s so not what you thought or felt about that person, place, or thing— which prompts you ask, What the heck caught my eye in the first place?
After our first trip to Nacogdoches we couldn’t stop thinking or talking about it, so two weekends ago we went back to find out if it still tugged at our heartstrings.
Oh, what a revelation!
Nacogdoches was just as wonderful the second time around. In fact, more like an extension of the first visit since we picked right up where we’d left off.
It was like finally reading the sequel to a much-loved novel, which, for me, meant finding and buying Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet (Cameron, 1956) after having read The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet (the first in a five-book series; 1954) thirty-four years earlier! Truly momentous, savored through and through, filling but still with a yen for more.
Another memorable experience
And that was Nacogdoches our second time around. Simply grand.
Steven indulged us with a two-night stay at the historic Hotel Fredonia downtown, so we could be close to everything. Although, really? Anywhere in Nacogdoches is close to everything else.
Friday evening we treated ourselves to some authentic Mexican food at La Carreta where the flavors and the textures appealed to my taste buds’ recollections of mom’s flour tortillas and food in South Texas.
Saturday, we spread ourselves more thinly than usual; but we were returning home mid-morning Sunday, so what choice did we have but to make the most of our visit?
We started at the “hitch lot” on West Main and Pearl streets.
Oh, the sights, sounds, and items to buy!
Hmm, hmm, hmm. Fresh fruits, vegetables, preserves, cheeses, and all sorts of delectable goodies were on display, as well as handcrafted items. We bought two sets of knitted potholders from a retired nurse and two pairs of beaded earrings from Mamie, who gave Steven her calling card, which, like the others we got there, had not email addresses, but telephone numbers only. Quite different from life elsewhere, personal, simplified.
Everywhere we turned vendors were smiling. Some shared samples with buyers and browsers alike, all hoping to sell their wares. We felt right at home especially among those who readily engaged in conversation.
Steven chatted with a psychologist who sells handcrafted furniture that benefits patients at the state hospital. Interestingly, the man has lived without electricity for the past
thirty-five years. And this, he said with a chuckle, is why it took him a good, long while to find the right woman to share his rustic life.
In the meantime I listened off and on to the conversations around me, took photos, and observed from where I stood next to a woman selling plants and vegetables from her pickup truck.
A man stopped by, asked a question, commented on the woman’s response, and then moved on. He’d bought from her before but didn’t find what he wanted this time around.
When Steven finished his conversation with the doctor, he joined me in talking to the woman, Fran, who was so friendly that I wished we could be there every Saturday. She asked if we were new to the market, so we introduced ourselves and took turns talking as we nibbled on two freshly picked cherry tomatoes Fran hadn’t thought twice about giving us.
Fran vividly described how she’d gotten her ankle crushed. Her husband had asked for help in moving the hogs to another pen when the largest one pushed hard against her, pinning her foot against the fence. Ye-ouch! She’d convalesced for several weeks, so that morning was her first time back at the market despite her swollen ankle.
We really enjoyed Fran’s company but had to be elsewhere in ten minutes. We agreed to meet up again one day soon and headed to the vehicle just as the folk singer started his melodious, melancholy song. What a voice!
When we’d arrived the man had been setting up chairs in front of his canopied area, and only now had he gotten to the singing part. I so wanted to stay and listen to the rest of the song at least; but the sooner we took care of business the sooner we could return to Peking for lunch— our third time there— for its mouth-watering special of the day, its peaceful ambiance, and its impeccable service.
On returning to the Fredonia mid-afternoon a young man eating his lunch on a couch in the lobby told me about the Sterne-Hoya House as Steven took photos. He suggested that we might want to visit as he had earlier. The young man was so nice that he instantaneously pulled up the museum’s website on his laptop to pique my interest further, and the hotel clerk handed me some pamphlets and a map in case their directions weren’t helpful.
I thanked them both and looked for Steven, who’d plopped down on a different sofa by then. He looked really beat, but I shared the information with him anyway. Then,
pushing exhaustion aside for the time being, we rushed off to the museum before it closed at four.
What an experience!
Marissa, our guide, a history major at Stephen F. Austin, peppered her talk with fascinating facts on both the Sterne and Hoya families; but I was most impressed with her effervescent personality. She not only captured our attention, but also fed our inquiring minds with tantalizing tidbits that left us wanting to take her tour at the Durst-Taylor house, the second oldest structure in Nacogdoches, when we’re back in town.
Right at home
From there we drove to church for five o’clock Mass. We sat in the same place as before. On the right up close to the front for the best effect.
Of course, knowing that Bishop Carmody had dedicated Sacred Heart in 1992— just
as he had St. Joseph Church, our home parish, in 2009— made us feel right at home. Moreover, that Bishop Carmody married us makes anything connected to him a heartfelt remembrance.
After Mass we made our way to the beautiful chapel on the other side of the glass wall behind the altar. Our first time there I’d taken photos of St. Elizabeth Seton’s stained glass window but hadn’t gotten a closeup of the relic with its accompanying certificate of authenticity at the bottom.
Before long a woman entered and engaged Steven in conversation as I took photos. As we talked about the church and my blog, a second woman with a terrific sense of humor joined us and teasingly asked what we’d been told, as if casting doubt on her friend’s veracity.
We all introduced ourselves and continued talking as we made our way back into the church. Mary, the first woman we met, works with the musicians; and Margo, the zany, witty one, gave us a mini tour focused on the beautiful stained glass windows.
Margo also showed us Jennifer’s window. The girl, just sixteen when she died unexpectedly, was the younger sister of the town’s famous World Cup soccer player, Clint Dempsey. Her death was a terrible loss to both the family and the community.
“Yes. We read about Dempsey in The Daily Sentinel yesterday,” I said. “We also read about him on Yahoo a few days ago.”
Conversing with Mary and Margo was truly special. We felt genuinely welcomed in their presence, which built on our first visit to Sacred Heart.
That time we’d met the deacon who helped us find our way to the chapel, but we’d missed out on seeing how folks interact with one another after Mass.
This time we observed how Father builds community. He cares about his parishioners and relates to them lightheartedly. During Mass he said that all men, married or single, would be given a Father’s Day memento. Then he told us about his beloved uncles before asking the oldest fathers to rise for recognition as he handed them the mementos personally. After Mass Father spent time talking with folks as they left, while small groups lingered here and there to chat a bit before departing.
As for Steven and me? Mary and Margo made it a point to learn about us, why we were there, and encouraged our participation in the future. They also introduced us to Father, who’d been locking and unlocking the front door as folks exited.
Then after Steven shared what all he does at St. Joseph’s, Father turned to me.
“And what do you do?” he asked point-blank.
“I maintain the blog I created for our church.”
Father looked at the others, tilted his head ever so slightly, and made a strange face before moving aside for us to leave.
Moreover, we’re delighted to have
established a meaningful connection to Sacred Heart Church in just two visits.
Finally, we topped our time in Nacogdoches with dinner at the Hotel Fredonia where we met a Stephen F. Austin junior waitressing her way through a fashion marketing degree.
Denise’s effusive personality coupled with her gracious hospitality made us feel very much at home at J. McKinney’s that evening.
What a delightful time!
January 4, 2015
How consoling, how sweet the presence of Jesus to the longing, harassed soul! It is instant peace and balm to every wound (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton).
January 4, 2016
The accidents of life separate us from our dearest friends, but let us not despair. God is like a looking glass in which souls see each other. The more we are united to him by love, the nearer we are to those who belong to him (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton).
Links of interest… Eleanor Cameron: about / award / books / stowaway / wonderful flight… Daily Sentinel… Clint Dempsey… Farmer’s market: blog / local harvest / reviews / rules & regulations… Historic: landmarks / people, places, events / sites department… Hotel Fredonia… Nacogdoches Convention Center… Restaurants:
La Carreta / Peking… Sacred Heart Church: facebook / map / multicultural festival / parish / website… St. Elizabeth Seton: biography / devotional area / national shrine /
prayer / relic / saint / upwards perspective…
WP posts… Angels keeping watch… Beautiful sacred space… Heart of hearts… Holy relics… Home again… A real church… Sacred Heart (Nacogdoches)… Sacred Heart Church (Corpus Christi, TX)… Saturday evening Mass