Living in Texas is indefinably wonderful. Perhaps it is the history of the place, or its former status as an independent Republic, or merely the lingering spirits of the people who settled this area of the country and made it their own.
The ghosts of Houston and Travis, Bowie and Crockett flavor the atmosphere with an unyielding spirit. Texas Rangers yet protect her citizenry today as they did in the frontier era. The beer is cold, the steaks big, and the barbeque distinct and delicious. It is not unusual to see a pickup truck bearing a sticker with the red, white and blue of the Lone Star State’s flag emblazoned with the word SECEDE. In living here for seven years, I have the impression that if any state’s people could truly make it on their own, this would be the one.
Texas, to use de Toqueville’s phraseology, is great because her people are good. Strong in faith and practical, they are a sturdy breed. My intuition tells me it is a love of the place nurturing the native stock. People influenced by their environment in such a way live their lives proud and pleased, and pass an essential state of satisfaction on to their progeny. We drank deep of the company of such folk while our time was blessed.
Two-thirds the size of Europe, it is a half-day’s drive from the state line to the heart of the Texas Hill Country from any direction, and we have made the journey more than a few times. The next time we make the drive, unfortunately, it will be in leaving rather than returning.
Behind me is the window on whose sill I leaned looking out at a beautiful panorama of live and post oaks, thinking through the themes from which I wove the novels of Jon Anthony, Daniel Sean Ritter and Rebecca Boone Hildebrandt. I will miss the fleeting treasure of those times.
In this beautiful place—the Hill Country—we were graced to live and write, and it will travel with us in memory. Our gray cats, also traveling with us, sniffed about on our green grass, lay in the shade of the trees of the Perimeter, and grew old in the last house they knew. We watched both of them leave from this same room in which I write now: the work area that produced nine novels.
We—the Single Candle Press Editress and I— hail from the wind- and snow-swept plains of South Dakota originally, and now an odyssey of twelve years is taking us home. We have been nudged, directed and preserved to do as much, and the divine guidance in the matter is all but undeniable. We’re going home, but we will carry in our minds the contrasts between the two locales.
It is, in a sense, always winter in the Dakotas. It is in fact winter, or just coming out of winter, or nearing winter. Briefly, it is summer, a time taken largely by matters of harvest and road construction. The cold is bitter and unforgiving, as are the people at times. It will be a fight to keep that same indigenous icicle from forming in my spirit again; one that five years of Arizona sun was barely able to melt before Texas beckoned. Neither Arizona nor Texas, however, was home.
We lived here and there, and we enjoyed each locale, but it was through occupation without belonging. With each passing year the difficult realization of being suspended outside of our element, and separated from our people became undeniable. That which goes against its nature does not endure, and age does nothing to salve an unnatural condition.
Knowing this, and taking comfort in the currently clear direction absent during our wanderings, is what I believe will sustain us once we return. Other places to live exist, but they are not our places. South Dakota is our land, and we are its people, and the strength to endure the place comes—in part at least—from such conviction. A stubborn toughness is found on the Plains … the survivorship earned by making it through to green grass every spring. Texas, wonderful as it may be, cannot make us Texans when we are not.
What we were to do and see is finished in Arizona, and nearly ended in the Lone Star State. It is truly time to go home: so named for a reason, after all, that being the peace found in returning to a place where one belongs. We hope you already know yours.
Choose to Love, -DA