Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Recent Visit to Texas- A Northern Perspective

It just goes to show you that you are never too old to learn.
I grew up spending summers on Canandaigua Lake, in the Finger Lakes region of NY. We spent our time in a little cottage with my grandmother, the six of us, my aunt, uncle and two cousins from Texas. The eleven of us stayed in a seven room home. Yes, that’s seven rooms total, four of them being bedrooms, plus one and a half bathrooms. Right. One shower. Eleven people. It was certainly interesting.
Growing up every summer with our cousins, they became more like distant siblings. We were best friends in the summer, and pen pals all year round.
That bond will never end, despite the miles that separate us most of the time.

So, skip ahead many, many years, and my cousin’s first born got married this past weekend. How is that possible? I can remember her swimming in the lake with a tube because she could barely touch the bottom! I remember making her the first swimsuit I ever made, in a size 4t! Just a few days ago, she got married!
My daughter and I decided to make the trip down to Texas for the wedding. I calculated that it had been 27 years since I’d last been there! Far too long between visits! We were able to meet my brother and sister in law there as well, who flew in from Connecticut. We had a great time!

Here are some things I learned while down there:

Texas takes their BBQ seriously! Our first meal when we arrived was some incredible authentic Texas barbeque! It smelled amazing, came quick, and fulfilled the fantasy! I hadn’t realized that the love for this amazing meat was huge down there. HUGE.

What’s with all the German names for things here? Well, apparently, Germans came through Mexico and Texas selling and trading, and therefore, left an influence that I knew nothing about. Schlitterbahn, the largest water park in the country was just nearby. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go there, but that’s just a reason to have to go back!

Mariachi bands are par for the course. Yes, there is another huge influence in Texas, and that is Mexican. One of my memories from my last trip south was the Mexican food. Living waaay up north, we don’t have much opportunity for such yumminess. Just as I remembered, it was fantastic. Simple, fresh, and oh so tasty! The mariachi bands were all around! They came to our meals, they were outdoors, they were even at the wedding! My daughter and I smiled every time we heard them. They have such a happy sound and colorful look to them!

Mexicans are a colorful people! Not only is their skin a beautiful, golden brown with that wonderful raven black hair, but their lives are full of bold, bright, amazing colors! Their clothing, traditions, drinks, food, everything seemed to shine with color! I wondered if growing up in that environment ever meant you were used to the color? If it was mundane because they live with it every day? As a visitor from a place full of clouds and snow most of the year, I loved it all! I appreciated it, and saw how it added to the culture down in Texas.

Between the German and Mexican influences, not to mention the cowboy aspect, Texas is very rich in culture! They have so many combinations that I don’t see every day where I’m from, so I found it very interesting the things they do just a bit differently. Lots of country music, cowboy boots, sombreros, southern hospitality, sweet tea, and of course the food just to name a few! Sometimes we felt like we left the country, it felt like such a world of its own.

Some other observations while we were there. Some of them I knew, some of them I forgot, some of them were new:

Texas is hot. Even when it’s not hot, it felt hot. The sun burns even when behind clouds. As a redhead, I knew this, but got a bit red anyway.

They’ve got the air conditioning figured out. Thankfully!

Cactus and wildflowers grow together. Everywhere. Beautiful!

Forgot how much I liked margaritas!

There are many coordinated dances in Texas, and not just the two step. Apparently everyone knows them. From the young to old, and everyone in between, they all know how to dance!

Texas is big. Well, it’s huge really. Everything in it is big. The land is mostly flat with ranches that go on beyond our sight! The longhorns are immense. Sports is, well, let’s just say it matches the state’s size in love there! They have stadiums for the high schools that I only see for colleges up where we are. Music, hats, boots, weddings, drinks, food…it’s all big in Texas! A good time for all!

Cold water is never really cold. Which made me laugh, because I remembered the time one of my cousins remarked at how cold our cold water is up here! Now I know why!

Mexican polka? Yep.

Sweet tea is perfection in a glass.

Mixing cultures and experiences is one of my favorite things in the world. Last weekend we got to do that, along with family and friends! We hope only wonderful times ahead for the newlyweds, and we already decided we will have to go back to Texas again some day!

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