The Long Road to Rodeo

Well, it’s March in Houston, Texas.  You know what that means…it’s time to get your boots on and get ready to Rodeo!  The trail riders have finally made their way to Houston.  I live in Montgomery County and always love seeing the various teams moving in from the north, even if they slow down traffic.

Not me. And my steer was full grown. But this is the spirit of the thing.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officially starts on March 4th and runs through March 23rd.  As you know, there will be plenty of music (Brad Paisley starts us off this year), food (yes, all of those deep fried items and barbecue), and fun (the children’s petting zoo and pony rides). But what you may not know is that this is the culmination of months of preparation for thousands of Texas 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) students and their livestock. I have to admit I always get nostalgic at this time of year.

You see, in central Kansas where I grew up on a farm and cattle ranch, late February and early March is when you select your steer for the annual 4-H fair and livestock show in July.  Continue reading

Come and Take It: the Sparta Connection

Texas_Flag_Come_and_Take_ItIts  impossible to live in Texas without having heard about the Battle of Gonzales.  What many may not know is this battle’s Classical connection.

First a refresher for those who may have forgotten.  The Battle of Gonzales was a minor skirmish fought in 1835 between a detachment of cavalry from the Mexican Army and band of Texians from the city of Gonzales which lies about 70 miles east of San Antonio and 70 miles south of Austin. And yes “Texians” is spelled correctly.  Texian (with an i) refers to citizens of Texas before it became a part of the United States, more specifically to people who supported Texas independence.

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Calling All Angels

cwp Friday I couldn’t decide what made me more excited:  the thought of hearing Gavin DeGraw, or Train.  In a perfect storm of Friday, Summer, and My Favorite Bands, both were on the same stage in a concert that I couldn’t have dreamed up.  They were even going to have a band in between called The Script who came all the way from Ireland. They were all performing at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, an award-winning planned community off of I-45 outside of Houston, yet part of Houston all at the same time.

I had a friend who was supposed to come with me, but she ended up having to work, which is not always a bad thing.  So I recruited my twelve year old son, Christopher, to come with me.  I make him listen to a lot of Gavin DeGraw and Train in my car, so I knew he would know a lot of the words, even if he had internalized them under duress. Trust me:  we have “I Don’t Wanna Be” and “Soul Sister” down cold.  The thing I love about The Cynthia Woods Pavilion is that it is outside and easy to get to, and you could bring your whole family if you felt like it.  But I also wanted Christopher to know about George Phydias Mitchell, an amazing man who died last week on July 26th.  He was the man who developed The Woodlands, where over 120,000 people now reside, and he named the concert venue we were going to after his wife, Cynthia Woods Mitchell. Continue reading

The Romance of Texas


Oh, dear.  A couple of my colleagues were involved in a fairly contentious exchange over the meaning of Texas patriotism on this blog last week.  As an historian of the Old South, albeit with no particular expertise in Texas, I feel I ought to make a contribution.  For the record, I grew up in upstate New York and loved my beautiful “North Country,” but I was never asked to pledge my allegiance to the Empire State.

I have lived in Texas since 2008 and although the call to state patriotism is still strange to me, I understand something of the “mystique” of Texas.  The land itself, with its wide-open spaces, nurtures a sense of independence and adventure.  Texas author John Howard Griffin, writing of the Llano Estacado region, called it the “land of the high sky.”   During my first full summer here I took a vacation in San Antonio and visited the Alamo daily.   I came away the proud owner of a mug with an image of the Alamo, its distinctive round-topped façade silhouetted against a brilliant evening sky.

But would I pledge allegiance to my current home state?  What would that mean?  It would be an act of appreciation, as a colleague has suggested, but a pledge is more than a thank you note.  It is a real commitment. Continue reading