We huddled together on the hilltop, tears streaming down our faces as the wind pierced our skin like icy needles. The sky hung low like a steel blanket as orange flags fluttered from stakes marking the corners of the future ranch house. Known in Texas as a Blue Norther, this harsh harbinger of seasons had suddenly ended our genteel Indian Summer.
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The landscape architect had arrived from Nashville and the team was anxious to walk the site and refine the placement of structures among the oaks on the hill, measure views and envision life among the gentle rolling landscape.
Heritage oaks on site
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Design had started months earlier after initial visits and analysis, meetings with the clients, models, surveys and renderings. But now, stakes marked the reality of the work; the views captured, the progression of arrival, and the embrace of the graceful branches of ancient oaks. The view to a distant lake, the framing of a sunset, the glimpse of a golden meadow through the distant trees, were all now within our understanding.
The team reviewing drawings at the house site
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But there would be no sunset on this day, as the wind whipped our large sheets of drawings. The team quickly retreated to gather our wits and regroup. Discussions continued within the musty confines of the ranch foreman’s truck until we were satisfied we had gathered the necessary information; or, at least enough on this bitter autumn day.
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We make the long drive back to San Antonio, where we are warmed by Mexican food and beer, and the conversation of what it means to build in a beautiful unmarred landscape. The following morning we gather around a large table as the landscape architect shapes and reshapes the lake shore, opens and closes gateways to distant views, and meanders the ranch road through pastures of hay and wildflowers, and through the twisted trunks of oaks by the old school house. He takes a visitor on a journey; a short road through a landscape that is Texas, grand distant vistas framed by rolling hills and heritage oaks. Just as we shape the experience of moving through the architecture of the home, he shapes the experience of life on the ranch. One day, memories will form to remember a special place among a gentle landscape, a beautiful bucolic and natural landscape- well, perhaps a little more intended than one will ever know.
Landscape of a Texas Ranch