Over the past year I've noticed a lot of fun and interesting things about Texas. Call it culture shock or assimilation, but here's an outsider's view of my new home. Obviously I like saying "y'all," and I find it quite handy. From the vocabulary to the climate, from the school traditions to the local hotspots, I'm enjoying this new land even if I poke a little fun at some of the quirks.
One of my favorite things about Texas is the people. They are nice. The general default mode is to show kindness, warmth and hospitality. People go out of their way to help each other. I've seen this over and over again. The foundation of this town is built on people who are genuinely decent and friendly.
I love the west Texas drawl (or is it east Texas?). At the elementary school, the sweet secretary lady is the nicest. When my son delivered something to his sister one day, she said, "Thank you baby," in a motherly, sweet way. He couldn't get upset at being called a baby, because it was a term of endearment.
Another cool thing I love: it's accepted to say grace before a meal in a restaurant. If you're saying a prayer for the food, the waitress waits politely out of respect. Somewhere between the words themselves and the southern charm behind them, I really like the language here.
It's hot and humid. But there's all this amazing stuff that grows outside. I like the flowers and trees and plants. One day at the nursery, back in August when it was like 1000° outside, I learned about making a flower pot arrangement. Okay, it wasn't that hot. (But why did I stop to buy mulch during the hottest part of the day?) The nursery people were really nice and gave me a free bottle of water, because everybody was glistening. Okay, that's a nice way of saying we were all drenched in sweat. The average heat index for August was about 107° and most places are cooled to about 77° F, so the 30° difference makes coming inside feel like you stepped inside a fridge (note to self: bring a sweater along). Yay for air conditioning! September is better than August for this reason: It's only 20° hotter outside, so we're making progress. Yay for fall!
The man at the nursery taught an important thing about making an eye-catching arrangement: Thriller, Filler and Spiller. Look for something tall (thriller), something to fill in the spaces (filler), and something to spill over (spiller). Here's my tribute to autumn, with zinnias, decorative peppers, and sweet potato vine.
There are things unique to this area: bluebonnets, Blue Bell ice cream, Whataburger (pronounced Waterburger, not sure why), Fuzzy's Tacos. The TexMex food here is awesome. I love having good guacamole in my life. In fact, I think I need to do more research by eating all the great food here. So far my favorite restaurant is Marty B's. It's ten minutes from my house, the food, the service, the queso and guacamole are all great. My personal favorite is the Texican Tamale Cake. If I'm sharing with Amber, we dump the side of pinto beans and sub in the mac and cheese. That's a home run. Some of these uniquely Texas things are not only iconic, but sources of great pride and joy to young and old, long time residents and newcomers like me.
Texas pride is huge. There are trucks built especially tough and labeled, "Texas edition." People pay more money for this nicety, and I have no idea whether or not it's a better truck. But no other state in the union would do this. Can you imagine paying extra for a New Hampshire edition of your vehicle?
I'm pleased to report that during the summer, the kids and I made it to Buc-ees once. This is a gas station destination. They have 100 pumps, lots of land, and seriously cool stuff inside. We tasted a bunch of varieties of jerky from the nice man at the beef jerky counter, we bought slushees for the kids, we even spent a while browsing the cool merchandise. It's like a mix between Cabela's and Hobby Lobby. I bought this awesome souvenir to put on top of my fridge. What's relevant here is not the souvenir itself, but the fact that I bought it at a gas station.
Let's talk for a minute about the Texas pledge. Last year when the kids first told me about it, I was stunned. I didn't know a state could have its own pledge.
Every day the kids say the pledge of allegiance to the flag of The United States of America, and then another pledge to the Texas flag. It goes like this: "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible." It's a fine tradition, just heads' up to all you Texans: they don't do this in other states.
Moving on to an interesting high school phenomenon: Homecoming mums are like a corsage on steroids. I've never seen anything like it. The girls are given a "corsage" that is almost as big as the student, so big that they use rope to wear it as a necklace. And yes, I will encourage my boys to participate in this tradition at least once while they're in high school.
Lastly, I must mention Friday night lights. Yes, Texas high school football is a real thing. It's a community event every week during the fall. The whole town goes to the game because they know somebody in it. Believe me, I worked concessions at a home game last week, and I saw them all as I sold hot dogs and nachos. Why? Because I have a son in the Marcus marching band. All the overpriced food at the stadium puts money right back into football, band and the Marquettes. Marching band deserves a post of its own at some point, but let me say this: of all the things that are bigger and better in Texas, I've just barely scratched the surface of the high school marching band program. The depth and complexity, the level of parent commitment, the enormous amount of time and sweat the students put in, it's incredible. Pictured below is the horn section in their hot weather uniform.
photo credit Sam Rogers
Fall in Texas is different from other places, and I've grown to respect the people here. They are great. The culture includes supporting kids in school, whether in marching band or in making mums for homecoming. The autumn weather is more pleasant so people are actually outside again, and the sense of unity born of working together, whether eating good food or saying the Texas pledge, is really incredible. Happy fall y'all.
When I was in high school I loved to study maps. One day I decided I was going to move to Beaumont, TX. That was my dream for a long time. After I got married, I traveled with Brandon and we visited Beaumont. It was then I realized it wasn't the place for me, but we fell in love with so much more of Texas. We decided someday we might live in Fredericksburg. It's a charming place in hill country. When Brandon got sick of his job in Wyoming, he applied with a company in New Braunfels. I thought my dream was going to come true, but then he didn't get the job and I bawled my eyes out. Now, I could live most places, but Texas has always had a special place in my heart. I'm happy you're getting to experience it.ReplyDelete
I'm not in Texas, but our charter school has their own pledge they recite after the pledge of allegiance. It gives me chills listening to them say it. It goes like this:
I am a Paradigm Patriot.
I am a free soul with the capacity to learn and grow.
I am a scholar and a servant leader.
I have gifts that make me unique and powerful.
I engage in the great conversation of ideas.
I can overcome hard things and persist in my learning no matter how challenging.
I take responsibility for my actions.
I live in gratitude.
I honor the nobility in every person.
I seek the true, the good, and the beautiful.
I accept my shared responsibility to create a free society and a better world.
I didn't know you'd wanted to live in TX. I'll have to look for Fredericksburg, I've heard good things about hill country. Here's an idea: come visit me, get your fix of all things Texas, and then you can weigh in on the DFW area.Delete
That's a cool pledge. I bet the students are united and motivated by it. So glad you said hi. I'm still figuring out how to add comments to posts, but I love it when I see any comment from you. Thanks Candi.
I just might take you up on that offer! I've been to Houston, Austin, San Antonio, but never Dallas -- and that's the city my brother was named after [my dad served his mission in TX]. But now you've got me wanting to come in the fall. I've never been a huge sports freak (as you may know), but I have fond memories of my high school days spent at the ball games. I love Texas' "Friday Night Lights" atmosphere. Man, I comment way too much, but I'm excited about the prospect of checking out the DFW area. I think next fall I'm gonna hit you up and see if your offer still stands.Delete
I love your comments. I'm just sorry it takes me like two weeks to find them on here. YES. For sure. I love this plan. Bring Brandon and y'all can stay at my house.Delete
Oh this makes me homesick! I love that I got to grow up in Texas (San Antonio) and raise my kids there. We have family now in the Houston area and visits aren't long enough or frequent enough for this girl!! So glad you are embracing so many of the good things of Texas! Texas is lucky to have the Nelson's!!ReplyDelete
Hi Debbie! Thanks for saying hi. I love how you were so enthusiastic as we were leaving Lehi and coming to TX. This is me wishing you more time with family in Houston. AND thanks for your kind words, it means a lot!Delete