Deep In the Heart

There are reasons for not particularly enjoying residency in Texas; beginning with the brutal summer heat, and working down through the serious lack of good mountains, distance from the seacoast, the brutal summer heat, highway interchanges that look like the planners just threw a plate of spaghetti at a wall-map, self-chuck-holing surface roads, the brutal summer heat, a distressing tendency for citizens to drown in urban low-water crossings, a high percentage of drivers of large vehicle who completely spaz out when it rains, the brutal summer heat, urban downtown areas which look like Calcutta had thrown up on Los Angeles.... And the fact that everything is bigger applies to the insect life as well. You wanna see a garden spider large enough to snag small birds? Check out my back yard in the springtime ... but bring along a baseball bat. And did I mention the brutal summer heat?

Against those considerations, though, there is an even longer list of reasons to relish living in the Lone Star State. In no particular order of importance, we also have...

Wildflowers; square miles of wildflowers; in spring the highway verges, empty lots, and hillsides look like impressionist paintings.

Given enough rain, the countryside looks really, really quite pretty. Not spectacularly scenic, just lots of gently-rolling country, cut across with green rivers and creeks. The Hill Country is rather more enthusiastically rolling. West Texas is really, really rolling, but not very green most of the year. More medium crispy, and not to everyones' taste... but this being Texas - where everything is bigger - there is more than enough of it all to go around.

Fields of grazing cows; restful to observe, although in some places that view is varied with buffalo, llamas and other exotica.

The HEB grocery chain. Statewide powerhouse, offering a matchless combination of quality, excellent service and attention to detail; if it isn't on the shelf at your local HEB, you probably don't need it anyway. There are whole sections devoted to local salsa, hot sauce and BBQ sauce.

Austin local music scene; not that I know much about that first hand, other than seeing "Austin City Limits" on PBS but my daughter does: she made me put that in.

Local history: a rich mine containing many solid gold nuggets. As Churchill once remarked about the Balkans, Texas produces almost more history than can be consumed locally.

Breakfast tacos; the food of the gods... oh, ye who only know of this marvel through the medium of Taco Bell should hide your faces in shame, and make a pilgrimage to San Antonio on your knees. I solemnly swear that every block of every main avenue has a breakfast-taco place on it somewhere, many also offering drive-through service.

Finally, Texas has an exuberant sense of place. Utah is the only other state I know which possesses the same strength of identity, of pride in a shared history; both states having been independent and entities during their founding decades. Sometimes this strikes new visitors as overstated, but after a while it's kind of endearing, and makes other places seem bland in comparison.

And finally, this is only a personal and purely anecdotal statement... but I do believe that out of all other bodies of human beings in the world, a substantially higher proportion of them will slide out of this existence and into the next, breathless, exhausted and whooping triumphantly, "Day-am! What an incredible ride!"