I answered the phone this morning to the sound of laughter. My friend Laquita’s giggles were a delight to hear for I always know that they precede a new story, or a West Texas funny. Growing up West Texas you often become leary of making friends with other women for there always seemed to be an agenda of some kind. When I moved to Central Texas I was drawn to this friend for no real reason. I often asked my daughter why does this woman call, why does she come by the shop just to chat? Quita and I were instant friends. Quita grew up outside of Midland in a small town called Greenwood, I grew up in a little town called Slaton just outside of Lubbock. Both of us ended up in Central Texas taking care of our parents. She soon taught me that West Texas girls have to stick together down here or we would go absolutely stir crazy!!
Her giggles this morning were like always the predecessor to a good story about some other West Texas woman living down here. Before I moved down here, I thought all Texas women were just that Texan. Well, that is true to a point but there is just something a little different about those of us that grew up out west. We are just a little more salty than most, a little more outspoken, and a little bit tougher around the edges. I don’t know if it is from growing up in the blowing dirt, the wildness of the area, the heritage that we carry or if it is just that we are a different breed all together.
I have a book that tells of the first time the Santa Fe Railroad sent people to the Texas Plains to survey for the railroad. The man went back and told his boss that “that country isn’t fit for anything but wild animals and wild Indians.” But the railroad build it’s hub in Slaton, Texas and a town was born. I love to listen to the old stories of all the growing pains that it went through and all the colorful people that have blessed it since. The colorful women that have scratched and punched and even shot to keep it alive. The women that took on roles that were unheard of or unladylike, that kept her alive.
West Texas women seem to have a knack about being incredibly head strong and quite capable of doing things on their own. I know of women ranchers, of madams, of business owners, of bootleggers all that were fine upstanding women. I also know of sinister women that were not above shooting a man for the slightest discretion. These were all the women that influenced the West Texas woman’s life and in some strange twist of fate, they live on in us.
I took this picture the other day just outside of Post, the sun was setting and the smoke from the fires in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona created the colors. Even though they were not near where I was the smell was still laden in the air. Filling your nostrils with the heavy aroma of fire. The thunder clouds were building to the south and the darkness was enveloping the Caprock. Lightening in the distance promised I would find a raindrop or two. As I climbed into the back of the pick up to cover the cookstove I was hauling back with me, I felt the first drops of the much needed rain fall. What an incredible mixture of smells that wafted through the air…..rain on one horizon, smoke on the other, and somewhere in between was the smell of hot, dry earth in much need of a drink. The gentle breeze blowing around me, the night closing in, and being in West Texas made me want to just sit there on the side of the road, on the side of my pick-up bed and let the end of the day engulf me. To take all the stress, all the hurt and anger and blow it away on a Texas breeze…….