At first glance, Dilley isn’t very pretty. It’s flat landscape of scrub brush and low mesquite trees isn’t what most people would call picturesque.
There are fields of waist high grass full of mean little sticker burrs that latch onto clothing and stab my fingers when I try to pull them off.
There are breeds of cactus with spines as long as my little finger.
No doubt, Dilley is a harsh place.
There’s that moment when my husband and five year old son, who have been out riding the land, pull up in the side-by-side. My five year old has fallen asleep in his daddy’s lap after a long hard day of playing with rocks and digging holes in the same red dirt that streaks his face.
There’s discovering strange relics in quiet fields like an old abandoned oil well or the skull of a goat that looks like something Dante might have included in one of his nine circles of hell.
There’s rescuing two day old baby goats from a field where they ended up far from their mothers. Even better, there’s watching my kids’ faces light up when I dump a squirming, squalling baby goat into their laps and tell them to “hang on tight”.
There’s the dank green smell of the catfish pond where my husband, the hardest working person I know, takes a rare moment to slow down and fish.
There’s the quiet that isn’t really quiet when we’re sitting in a deer stand. The sounds of cars and televisions and radios fall away to be replaced with the not-quiet of whirring bugs, squabbling turkeys and … wait… was that a wild pig?
There’s getting to see the look on my daughter’s face when a doe steps tentatively out of the brush, her white tail flicking nervously as she bends her neck to nibble at a bit of fallen corn.
No doubt about it, Dilley is a hard place. An unforgiving place. But it’s also a good place. It’s a place I thank my lucky stars for.
I know there are more exotic locations in the world – places I’d like to visit someday.
But as pretty as they are, I’m not sure they’ll ever compare to Dilley.
Something about that red sand.
It gets in your blood.