Ensmallening the World
While visiting area attractions yesterday, we got shown around the state park by a slow-spoken, courtly, tall drink of water in a cowboy hat. "He's cute!!!" said our CVB contact the first time he was out of earshot, "I can't believe I've never met him before!"
She knows everybody in town, but he went on to explain that he spends most of his time with the buffalo and Longhorn herds in the park.
"When a man says he spends more time with buffaloes than with people," I warned her later, "a woman should probably listen."
He also told us a story, in his pleasant, laconic drawl, of how he was trimming one of the park's trees when he accidentally knocked down a limb with a bees' nest, and got stung 300 times, and now he can't eat shellfish anymore.
"Oh my God!" we exclaimed. "How long were you in the hospital?!"
"I just went home and laid down for a couple days, didn't go to the hospital," he answered offhandedly, then paused for thought.
"Reckon maybe I shoulda."
While I was checking out of my hotel this morning, the world nudged my elbow with another fond reminder. The desk clerk - an extraordinarily friendly, helpful, good-natured woman - mentioned how chilly the weather had just turned, but she knew it would because of how strong the wind had been yesterday. The hardest things she's had to get used to about living in West Texas are the wind, she said - that, and the dust.
"Where did you live before?" I asked her.
"I'm from New York, in the Niagara Falls area," she said.
"No way!" I exclaimed, "my dad's family is from around there - he grew up in Sodus."
"Oh, I know where Sodus is!" she said. "I lived in a little town nobody around here has ever heard of - it's called Lockport."
"No way!!!" I said, "my grandparents lived in Lockport! I used to go up there every Christmas and every summer! They lived in an old farmhouse on Slayton Settlement Road!"
"Oh! I know where Slayton Settlement Road is!!"
Then we talked about sweet corn and apple orchards and rolling countryside and barns and home-raised honey and the Erie Canal until we were both completely homesick, and I had to leave because I was keeping my boss and the CVB people waiting.
I guess it ups the odds a bit that my parents moved around a lot while I was growing up. Last week I asked a married couple touring the Capitol building where they were visiting from, and they told me Huntsville, Alabama.
"No way!!!!" I said, "I went to high school in Madison!!!"
"You went to Bob Jones?!" they said.
Probably this sort of thing doesn't happen nearly so often to cattle ranchers.