January 27, 2009
What Is Texas Like?
by Molly Noble Bull
In about 2005, Molly’s husband took the landscape photo from a hill in the beautiful Texas hill country west of San Antonio. Notice how the clouds hung below the line of blue hills.
A fourteen-year-old girl who liked The Rogue’s Daughter, my short historical novel set on a cattle ranch in Texas, wrote to me recently with an interesting question. What is Texas like?
“Big,” I’d have to say.
It’s the only answer I could come up with.
Texas is larger than some foreign countries. Even the famous King Ranch is larger than a state or two.
For those who don’t know me, I am a native Texan. My father and my maternal grandfather were ranch managers—real cowboys. I spent part of my growing up years on a sixty thousand acre cattle ranch in South Texas, and my late uncle and one of our sons managed cattle ranches as well.
Contrary to what some think, not everybody in Texas live one ranches, and not everybody is a cowboy. Most live in cities like Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin.
But the town in South Texas where I live is located near the Gulf coast. The area is flat, semi-topical, hot and humid most of the time despite sea breezes coming in off the Gulf of Mexico, and it is in the heart of cattle ranching country.
Molly’s cowboy grandfather.
On the map above, you will see a dot near the top of Texas. The dot stands for the city of Amarillo. Below that dot and to the right, you will see another one, and this dot stands for Dallas. Below Dallas, you will see a dot that stands for Houston. And the dot way down near the bottom of Texas is where I live.
I’ve been to Amarillo, and it is high, flat and cold. If you ever want to see snow in Texas, Amarillo is the place to go. The city of Dallas is huge and flat but maybe not as cold as Amarillo. Houston, also flat and huge, is in the piney woods area of Texas, and to the east of Houston are more tall trees and also swamps.
Down below Houston but to the left is San Antonio—home of the Alamo. No, you won’t see a dot for San Antonio. You must imagine one.
For many years, we lived west of San Antonio in what is known as the Texas hill country. Besides hills, the Texas hill country has trees that change colors during the Fall season, clear, rock bottomed streams and rivers, and a dry climate.
The tip of Texas on the far left is the city of El Paso—no dot there either. The Davis Mountains are called the foothills of the Rockies, and they are found below El Paso and to the right. Texans call this the Big Bend area, and Big Bend National Park is there.
Brownsville is one of the oldest cities in the state and is found at the very bottom of the map at the southern tip of Texas.
Before Texas was a state and therefore a part of the United States, it was an independent country. Nobody should be surprised to learn that Texans are also independent and have no problem speaking their minds on issues.
I love my home state and would like to end this article with a song schoolchildren once sang in public schools in Texas.
Beautiful, beautiful Texas—the most beautiful state that I know. We are proud of our forefathers who fought at the Alamo. You may live on the plains are the mountains or down where the sea breezes blow. But you’ll still be in beautiful Texas—the most beautiful state that I know.