Under Texas Skies

October 28, 2016 at 12:06 am 1 comment

            I spent four years in Memphis, Tennessee, in the mid-seventies. It was not a happy experience. A half-inch of snow one January, and the whole city closed down. Then there was the headache-inducing summer humidity.

            Working there, I found the coy, syrupy, Southern belle sweetness of some of my co-workers phony and hard to stomach. Add in the fact that—according to the matriarch at the family-owned building supply company I worked for—I remained “That Yankee Girl in th’ Office” for my entire 44 months of employment, and my discomfort meter got nudged toward its limit.

            By the time I moved back north, I had heard enough racist and sexist references from the locals that I was ready for a frontal lobotomy just to stop the screaming in my head that I didn’t have the chutzpah to level at the guilty parties.

            So, when my husband and I moved from the Minneapolis area in Minnesota to the Dallas area in Texas 18 months ago, I expected to experience full-fledged culture shock. South is south, right? Not so, I quickly learned. We have felt nothing but welcomed since day-one of our time here, and I find myself more in-tune politically, philosophically, and spiritually with my new friends and neighbors than I could have ever hoped to be.

            Having said all that, there are things I don’t like about being here. I don’t like endless summer any more than I liked endless winter. And as much as I whined about having to bundle up head-to-toe every time I set foot out my front door from November through March, it really doesn’t seem like Christmas without a crisp, white blanket of snow covering the front yard.

            I also dislike the idea of “outside dogs.” Sure, they add to one’s sense of security, but aren’t canines social creatures? Don’t they need attention from their owners, even if they have a dog-buddy fenced in out there with them? And don’t the neighbors deserve not to be awakened at 4:00 a.m. because the guard pooch mistook a squirrel for an armed intruder?

            Ummm. The local drivers. They seem to be of two extreme types: the ultra-polite person who wants to wave you through the four-way stop even when it isn’t your turn—dangerous in its own way—and the idiot who screams down the George Bush freeway going 25 miles over the posted 70 m.p.h. limit, cutting between you and that 40-ton semi that you were starting to pass on the left.

            But the things I love about life in Texas far outweigh the things I don’t love. People are exceptionally friendly. They chat with you in line at the checkout counter. They wave and smile from their vehicle as they pass you walking your dog, or they stop weeding the garden to come down and shake hands and chew the fat for a spell.

            Here, we have discovered an abundance of good ol’ common sense, which dares to defy political correctness when rational thinking contradicts conventional wisdom. Closely related is the courage of the faithful. Our two favorite restaurants—one a fast food taco joint, the other a fabulous barbecue establishment—both flash Christian witness in neon red on their roadside signs. We’ve seen similar joyful proclamations other places, too, from the local Chamber of Commerce to the receptionist’s desk at the closing company that handled our house purchase. I feel bolstered on all sides by these unabashed efforts to promote faith; I’m no longer on the defensive within a civic environment hostile to and debasing of my beliefs.

            And the skies. I don’t know the scientific explanation for it, but there is something about the chunk of heaven that hangs over our little corner of  northeast Texas. Almost every sunset is a delight and a surprise, with its ever-changing variety of cloud formations and soul-inspiring natural tints that you want to scoop into a jar like fireflies, and bring back inside with you. Hard to capture in a photograph. Even harder to describe. This glorious daily treat—sometimes delivered at sunrise as well—sits near the top of my list of things to appreciate about our new location, right under being close enough to kids and grandkids to gather together at the slightest excuse for a celebration.

            In fairness to Memphis, I imagine things are different there now. New generations, cleansed of the infectious bigotry and regional snobbery of their predecessors, have no doubt changed the feel of the place. But there’s no way they’ll ever be able to compete with the view of the firmament we are blessed with here in Cattle Country, U.S.A.

            I’ll remind myself of that the next time I’m awakened from a sound sleep by the howling mutt next door. These indescribable sky-views are probably worth that trade-off.

Entry filed under: Southern Fried Yankee. Tags: , .

It’s a Jungle Out There Goodbye, Sweet Prince

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Craig  |  October 28, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Well it appears you made the right decision in your move.


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