By Jennifer Whitlock
I love Texas. I’ve lived as far north as the Panhandle, as far south as the Rio Grande Valley and practically everywhere else in between. I have seen some beautiful sights and made some wonderful friends.
And I’ve learned a few things about Texas and its people. Allow me to share.
- There’s no place in Texas that’s not windy.
There’s a reason we Texas women love our hairspray. While West Texas is known for dust storms and brownouts, it’s windy just about everywhere in Texas. Abilene, Amarillo, Corpus Christi and Lubbock have even earned top 10 placements in the windiest cities in the nation.
It’s because most of the Lone Star State is relatively flat, giving low pressure systems an unobstructed right-of-way to blow, blow, blow. And while wind energy contributes to our power grid, it also unfortunately contributes to major crop damages across the state. When wind speeds get too high, it can rip tender plants to pieces or simply blow them away.
- It is possible to experience all four seasons in one day.
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait 15 minutes.”
It’s funny, because it’s true.
At some point, you’ve likely woken up to freezing temperatures, pulled on a parka and gloves, then needed sunglasses and shorts by noon. You just never know what Texas weather will decide to do.
I’ve seen white Christmases, brown Christmases (thanks to those West Texas windstorms), rainy Christmases and Christmases where it was so warm, the trees were already budding. Texas weather is moody, but it keeps life interesting.
- There is (or isn’t) a difference between a breakfast burrito and breakfast taco.
But I’ll be honest. I don’t care what you call it, it’s dang tasty. Give me a flour tortilla filled with soft scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and melty, gooey cheese topped with some homemade salsa, and my mouth will be too full to enter into a debate, anyway.
- But a tank and a pond are the same thing.
It just depends on what side of I-35 you’re standing on.
If you’re in East Texas and someone talks about a pond, they’re talking about a body of water for cattle to drink from. But if you’re in West Texas and someone mentions a stock tank, or just “tank,” they’re talking about exactly the same thing. Central Texans can go either way, while it seems like most South Texans stick to tank. It’s another delightful colloquial twist.
- Farms and ranches across the state are diverse, but they all have one thing in common.
Big, small, organic, conventional…a love of the land runs deep in every farmer and rancher I’ve ever met. No one gets into this business to drain the land and ruin its resources.
It infuriates me when I hear people insinuate farmers and ranchers don’t take care of their land or animals. It’s at the heart of everything they do.
Being stewards of land and livestock is not a job a farmer or rancher takes lightly. In fact, they often give it everything they’ve got and then dig a little deeper for more. It’s just what they do.
- Texans are about the best people anywhere.
Denim-clad with dusty boots. Suit, tie and cowboy hat. Fencerows to board rooms, barn lofts to skyscrapers. No matter what we wear or where we live, Texans are determined, resilient, industrious and welcoming.
We’re the kind of people who’d give you the shirt off our back because our mamas raised us right. And we take a special pride in displaying that hospitality to all we encounter. Because after all, we are “The Friendly State.”
- But Texas ain’t for the faint of heart.
I don’t think there’s any other state where the climate is as varied, the agriculture is so diverse, the history so colorful and the food so delicious. (Full disclosure: I may be suffering from some bias here.)
I also don’t think there’s any other state that encounters the same set of concerns. From tornados to hurricanes to wildfires, just about any sort of natural disaster can and does occur here. We frequently fight drought across much of the state almost every year, making farming and ranching quite a risky enterprise.
And that’s not to mention our economic and social issues. Bourgeoning urban sprawl, securing an international border while maintaining booming international trade, balancing oil and gas exploration with private property rights, limited water resources being shared fairly among many…many states share some of these burdens, but few states have all the same issues going on at once as we do.
If you want to live in Texas, you have to be tough. And ready for whatever life throws at you.
- There is beauty in every space.
Those who didn’t grow up in West Texas think it’s ugly, desolate and dry. And those not from East Texas can feel intimidated by the trees seemingly encroaching on them and blocking the view of the horizon. People in the city wonder why we live out in the “sticks,” and those in the country wonder why anyone would want to live somewhere where you sit in traffic.
But no matter where you turn, there’s beauty waiting to greet you.
West Texas sunsets. Sunrise on the Laguna Madre. The austere elegance of Big Bend. Rows and rows of pristine white cotton bolls popping against red dirt. Some places feature skyscrapers and city lights, while in other parts of the Lone Star State, miles of unobstructed views abound.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I think every piece of Texas is mighty fine.