Monday, March 29, 2010

Lone Star Pilgrims

Texas is big. Really big. Some of the counties would make decent states if they were in New England. When I drove 108 miles each way to teach a night class (from Pharr to Alice and back to Pharr), I spent much of that time driving through one ranch. That ranch -- the King Ranch -- has its own Chevy truck edition.

I lived in Texas for three years, and I've now been in Massachusetts for almost 13. (It is easy to keep track, since our daughter was born practically 5 minutes after our moving truck arrived.) During those three brief years, we learned quite a bit about Texas and got to visit many parts of it, especially since driving out of the state in almost any direction required more than a day of driving (except due South -- Mexico in 10 minutes from our house). We visited every county in West Texas, for example.

Aside from NPR, I used to get a lot of my local information from Texas Monthly, which featured ads and articles that were clearly aimed at people who would get on an airplane to go shopping or visit a museum or restaurant elsewhere in the state. We were in Texas just long enough that we were starting to become those people. We once drove 250 miles round-trip to see the Nutcracker with some friends, and we did fly to Ft. Worth (pronounced "fo-at wuth")  to see an exhibit of landscape prints. Did I mention it is a big state?

Today, however, I get a lot of my local news from the Boston Globe, the daily digest of the Hub of the Universe (where a friend of mine is a brilliant editor). From the article 21st-century pioneers, I learned about Texarrakis -- the ambitious project of four young Bostonians who are about to find out just how big West Texas is. One of them purchased over 8 square miles of west Texas on eBay for about the cost of a decent couch. To purchase that much land in Greater Boston would set you back billions of dollars, and the process would have you tied up with lawyers for the rest of your natural life.

But land is plentiful in West Texas, giving these four friends a chance to learn a lot about living close to the land and -- through their various electronic outlets -- sharing what they learn with the rest of us.

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