I pump the brakes and pull a U-turn on an empty stretch of two-lane highway just outside of Early. (The town. Not the time of day, although it was).
"I just want to lay in the middle of them," she says, springing out of the passenger side before I've barely put it into park.
The seductress? A perfect patch of bluebonnets. The state flower, for all you non-Texans, whose purple plumes make springtime ripe for roadside photo-ops.
Hence the botanical pit stop... an arm's length away from becoming a trip to the emergency room, no thanks to a covert cactus. Check before you frolic, kids.
Another hallmark of all things March, April and May? Baby animals. And if we weren't passing up wildflowers, you know we weren't passing up wildlife. Locals rattling by in pickup trucks gawk at the two strangers snapping pictures in the front yard of an old ranch house.
Fingers crossed they're family pets. Not tomorrow's dinner. More than I can say for the four-legged residents of Goldthwaite, where a giant "GOAT COOK-OFF" banner hangs from the lone stoplight in the middle of town.
Competition in the form of cornhole awaits our arrival. I've barely hugged hello before I've got a beanbag in each hand. (This is my family).
"Brookie, next game?"
Despite a rusty arm, Dad snags me for his team. Call it beginner's luck if you please, but I'll be damned if we didn't win out. (Fortune fled later that night during a hot round of El Diablo, where cards flew and Mamasita doled out conspicuous aid, despite shrieks of "BUT THAT'S CHEATING.")
Please note the handsome menfolk in my life... paying rapt attention to the one sport that lulls me to sleep, green jacket or not. I'm especially smitten with the one in the bib. And I'd be remiss to ignore the similarity between my little brother's bicep and a tree trunk. He is selling tickets to the gun show, ladies. (I take but a small, promotional cut).
Sunday morning at its finest, fishing pole in hand. The definition of serenity, until I feel a tug on the line.
"I GOT ONE," I scream, jerking the rod.
"REEL IT IN," my cousins chirp, dashing to the edge of the dock.
I reel. I yank. I reel harder.
"This fish must be HUGE."
"You got it stuck, idiot." My brother's astute assessment. Sadly, he's not wrong. I'll spare you the resurrection jokes, but the effort to save the two-dollar lure went a little something like this...
For some magical reason, my mom still finds it highly appropriate to fashion Easter baskets for the two of us. We oblige. Obviously. (I've got a six-pack of blue Peeps, if anyone wants to trade for Reese's Eggs).
The weekend capper? A feast I can only liken to.... um, every other holiday we spend together. (The Millers/Shugarts excel at eating. Fun fact). Highlighted by my dear Meme trying to sneak dabs of both buttery mashed potatoes and green frosting into the mouth of her sixth-month old great-grandson. ("What? He was crying for cake!") If that doesn't tell you grandmothers are hard-wired to spoil.
Easter goes as quick as it comes. We hug goodbyes, lamenting the food babies and the long trip home. And instead of leaving with the Golden Egg... I bounce with gas money, which is pretty much the same thing these days.