Hi, everyone. My name’s Gracie. Carol's a little busy, so she asked me to tell you a little bit about myself.
I was born thirty-two years ago in Fredericksburg, a small town in the Texas Hill Country about an hour and a half west of Austin. The town was established in 1846 by German settlers and named after King Frederick of Prussia. I grew up in a limestone house built not long after that date by one of my great, great and more grandfathers. Except each generation added on to it, so it’s now filled with all sorts of nooks and crannies perfect for afternoon daydreaming.
Of course I wasn't aware of any of that back then. I was the youngest of five children, with three brothers and a sister to keep up with. By the time I entered kindergarten, I knew the key players on the Cowboys, Longhorns, and Red Raiders teams. And the words to a whole lot of George Strait songs. I also knew how to throw a baseball and how to braid my hair.
When I was ten, my two oldest brothers were away at college, and my sister was a senior in high school. By the time my sophomore year in high school came along, I was the only one still at home. It was also the year I became an aunt for the first time. For a few years, I learned what life was like for an only child—the good and the bad.
Daddy worked as a handyman and generated more business than he could handle. All five of us—even Trinka, who is THE girliest girl ever—learned how to do all kinds of things to help him. He also made a pretty good living raising cattle and growing peaches.
Mama kept the peaches from the best trees. What we didn't eat, she turned into prizewinning cobbler and ice cream at the Gillespie County Fair. She still makes those two treats for a few of the priciest bed-and-breakfasts that now dot the local landscape.
The summer I was nine, Mama’s cobbler brought about my first attempt at solving a crime.
She’d sent me out to pick enough peaches to fill her cobbler basket. I’d climbed the tree and filled about half the basket when the voices of two men drifted up through the leaves.
Probably Daddy and Buster, the man who helped him with the peaches every year. I peeked out through the leaves.
The men were strangers. Each was carrying a stack of bushel baskets—not the kind Daddy used for market peaches. If they weren't helping Daddy and Buster, they were peach thieves.
I’d heard about those. Two or three farms got hit every year. Where were Petunia and Daisy? Our border collies were usually too alert for anyone to sneak up on our peaches unnoticed.
The men passed my tree and stopped at the next one. No! All the trees at this end of the row were Mama’s. And the men were too close for me to climb down and find Daddy.
What should I do?
Want to know more? How this story ends? Who I really am?