One Hundred degrees! “Only” 95 degrees back in Ponca City, Oklahoma. That’s okay for me, safe in my brother’s (Gary Mounce) and sister-in-law’s (Malena Elias de Mounce) air-conditioned Honda.

But maybe not okay for Border Patrol agents we met (or for any immigrants and children of immigrants caged in confinement along the U.S.-Mexican border in deep south Texas).

They, and Texas “Valley” residents, are facing what I am told is the “canícula;” we call them “dog days” in Oklahoma—I learned more about how Spanish and English are related. And I recently joined them in a physical way—and in a spiritual way. (May the good folks in my Christian Church near Ponca and in Edinburg forgive me for missing services.)

I took a journey south of McAllen and Mission, Texas, toward the Rio Grande River, or the Rio Bravo, the Wild River as it is called in Mexico. On the U.S. side things were peaceful. On the Mexican side things were also quiet. The exception would be the infamous “Cartels,” fueled, I was told by my brother, by the U.S. buying drugs and exporting arms into Mexico.

I saw how much both these countries depend on one another, how much we in the U.S. need their people and workers. Hundreds of shoppers from nearby Reynosa and Monterrey streamed over the Anzalduas bridge (took me awhile to learn to pronounce that); my brother, a resident of the Valley, told me how much they added to the tax base of cities in the Valley. I will share that information with folks “up north” here.

The huge Dillard’s store in the modern mall of McAllen, I was told, enjoys the most volume in sales of all their stores in the U.S.  My new son-in-law, Caleb, from Houston, also lives in the Valley now. I went to his wedding with my niece, Victoria. My brother, my grandson, Samuel Mounce, and others went for margaritasand a molelunch at the famous “Arturos” in the little Mexican border town of Progreso, which they had shown me previously.

The whole area was blended together, for a long time. Now, however, that peacefulness and economic progress is threatened. The prices of food and the general well-being of folks in Oklahoma and the rest of the U.S. is threatened as well. Those who love the environment, as I do, are especially concerned. The campus of the University of Texas at Brownsville had been cut in two by a wall. The magnificent Butterfly refuge south of Mission had been endangered (although a legal stay is in effect now, after protests); it was to be churned up, cut in two. We were able, thank the Lord, to see the butterflies, the lovely national museum, and much of the brush and area along the river.

We met several Border Patrol agents who wondered what we were doing there, driving across the levees and along a narrow, dirt road in the chaparral. There was one young female agent among them, and all were polite. But we wondered if we would have been treated differently, had we been Mexican citizens, or Mexican Americans. We saw the old mission, “La Lomita,” and carefully watched for alligators in the river near Anzalduas Park.

We saw the outside (only) of the Border Patrol stations. We have been listening to the news about treatment of those held inside other areas. We may not be experts, but we are smart enough to add up the news from TV, Google and from trusted family and friends on both sides of the border. We can see what’s going on. I, for one, am not proud of our nation’s current polices of family separation or of destruction of the environment, to satisfy the whims of insensitive leaders.

What can one do? A friend of ours, Cindy, volunteers at the Catholic Charities’ Respite Center in McAllen, folding clothes and blankets, distributing toys and food. But it all seems too little. We all need to do so much more and contribute in any way we can now to help those who are suffering—and to change the policies and the current, sad reality. I was appalled at the hundreds of laws that had been “waived” in order to prepare for a wall separating our countries.

If you live in or travel to South Texas soon, attend the free “Beach Party,” entitled “RECLAIM THE RIVER, II.” Saturday, August 17th, 9 AM to 12 Noon, at the National Butterfly Center, Butterfly Park Drive, Mission, Texas, 78572; Phone: (956) 583-5400. There will be nature hikes, fishing and picnicking—face painting and a wildlife petting zoo for the kids. I’m glad someone is doing something. And, of course, we need to vote next year against negative forces in our country, and vote for humanistic, realistic leaders whom we believe will try to reverse bad policies and replace them with carefully considered good policies. Thank you/gracias for listening to the point of view of a daughter of an Oklahoma (Cherokee Strip) pioneer and a retired, but still “kicking” Senior Citizen.