I have just completed my fifth year as a resident of Texas.
I don’t know if that makes me a Texan or not. I’ll leave that up to you natives. Y’all can vote or something. I’ll abide by your decision. But before you make up your minds I would like you to know that I have taken steps to assimilate.
For instance, I rarely wear anything but blue jeans, usually Lee Riders. They seem to have that little extra bit of room just below the back pockets where things have sorta pooched out in the last few years. I seem to have reached a point where comfort beats the stew out of style most days.
I’ve adjusted to the climate. I no longer expect rain from sometime just after the first of the year to sometime just after the last of it. But I always appreciate it when it falls.
Dry heat, I’ve discovered, is less taxing than humid heat, although at 110 degrees and minus 10 percent humidity, it’s too hot to play tennis on asphalt. And 40 percent humidity doesn’t really count to folks raised in the Southeast, where that’s considered arid.
I no longer expect to find water in Texas rivers and understand where the Red River got its name. Less certain about the Canadian, which is a fer piece from Canada.
I’ve figured out that Brownfield is also a ways from Brownsville and if you mix them up in a story folks will let you know about it.
I understand that when someone tells you to be careful driving home when there’s a red cloud moving in from the Southwest it’s a good idea to make some speed and get to wherever you’re going before the dust storm makes forward movement treacherous and backing up suicidal.
I like the winters, except when those cold north winds cut through flesh like a hot knife through goat cheese. Spring is nice; at least it is on the day it happens, between the last freezing day of winter and the first scorching day of summer. I enjoy the day fall comes—and leaves—too.
The bluebonnets are lovely in the springtime, when they have ample time to thrive and when they get enough water, which is infrequent, which makes them all the more enjoyable when they do pop out.
I’ve done other things to fit in. I bought a pair of cowboy boots a few years back. The soles are still slick. You see I wear them only on days following evenings when my misdeeds convince me that serious punishment is in order. They hurt my feet. Narrow-toed boots and bunions don’t mix.
I haven’t bought a cowboy hat. My wife says I look silly wearing one. Funny, she says the same about my fishing hats. She hasn’t mentioned how I look without a hat and I’m afraid to ask.
I’ve grown fond of roadrunners. They are pretty. Wild hogs are not. I enjoy watching coyotes but would not turn my back on one.
Texas has most any kind of geology you’d want, and several you wouldn’t. There are hills in the Hill Country, pines in the Pineywoods, flat areas in The Plains but also canyons deep enough to hide a good-sized town in.
Large areas of the state have relatively few trees and most of those stick up just a bit over head high on a six-foot tall rancher wearing high-heeled boots. But in East Texas I’ve found valleys, woodlands and rivers (with water in them) that remind me of rural areas in Alabama and Georgia. In fact, I think someone could blindfold me, stick me in the trunk of a car or under a tarp in the back of a pick-up (But please don’t.), drive around about 12 hours, put me out in Red River County, and convince me I was in Calhoun County, Georgia.
I’ve worked with farmers and farm families for going on closer to 30 years than 20 and have found them to be the nicest, most honest, most dependable folks in the country. That’s equally true of the farmers and ranchers I’ve met in Texas, also Oklahoma and New Mexico. I count them among the best friends I’ve ever had.
And some of them are pretty good cooks, too, and will invite you to dinner if you show up at about the right time.
It’s been a good five years and I thank you kindly for the hospitality.