Impressions of Texas on my way out of Texas

9 Sep

Going down a single-lane country highway at 70 miles per hour in the back of my dad’s VW Jetta, I’m listening to one end of phone conversation discussing oil rig issues that is delivered in thick Texan dialect and laced with field-specific jargon, making it almost unintelligible to my ears.  This lonely highway seems bleakly optimistic in the bright Texas sun.

The landscape looks scared, but that’s probably only because I know it should be – we are in Bastrop County on detour due to raging wildfires in the area (a serious problem all over South-central and Southwest U.S. right now).  This country highway is a fine substitute to Highway 71, which I’ve been on too many times throughout my adult life to really appreciate anymore.  Paige, Texas, looks asleep.  What little movement I see not on the highway looks like the product of a slow, lazy, figurative yawn.

I am in love with the landscape of central Texas.  I had no idea how much I’ve missed it.  Massive trees and briars and foliage everywhere, everywhere seem older these days.  The entire land aged while I was gone, not just my loved ones.  It’s always seemed old, with its dead fauna mixed in with its flora of every hue of green and brown.  But now the browns have also taken over the ground, which has been given up on by grass, even the sturdier, wilder kinds.  The greens are being invaded by grays, and the wide-spread effects of the worst drought ever to blight Texas make the landscape look like a middle-aged man’s salt-and-pepper beard that’s still somehow lying about it’s true age.  It looks like a decade of stress and life have wrecked havoc on this parched earth rather than only a year-long drought.

Age is such a silent killer in all ways, but drought is worse.  The volatile silence of the high-speed train of thirst and time that this landscape has somehow hitched onto is killing it in a very visible way.

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