After writing about Texas, the Lone Star State, for two weeks now, I have received some delightful pieces of information about the state I call home. Ted and I also took a few days off and toured the beautiful Hill Country of Texas. All of the locals we spoke to in Burnet, Marble Falls, around lakes LBJ, Inks and Buchanan, in Llano, Leander, Mason County, and at Enchanted Rock assured us that the bluebonnets were the prettiest they had been in over a decade. We had assumed that because of the drought, the spring flowers would not be as plentiful or as beautiful as they might have been. We were wrong.
One of the men we met on the trip said that the rains came at just the right time (isn’t that just like God?) and that his 50-acre field was the most magnificent he had ever seen it since he had been planting the awesome flowers for folks to enjoy. While we were there, near Leander, car after car stopped for folks to bring children and adults to get their photos made in the huge field of blue. We joined in the fun and a kind resident stepped up and said, “Would you two like me to take your photo together in the bluebonnets?” What a nice gesture, and we accepted right away. That’s something else I have learned about Texas. Folks simply are friendly and they do what seems right at the moment – for the most part. It might do to add that they are not shy, either. If they think their idea is better than yours, they will let you know that, too.
One of the highlights of our fifth wedding anniversary trip was why Ted planned to go to the Hill Country in the first place. He learned while living in Austin some years ago that the Texas Legislature had enacted a bill naming the Texas topaz the state gem. Two years later, the Legislature had named the Lone Star Cut as the gem cut of the state. Both are approved and fairly rare. A gem cutter has to know how to get the depth of the star, not just in outline form, but showing the complete image of the state seal. Ted had ordered such a cut into a Mason County topaz for a beautiful ring and we were to pick it up in Leander, a charming little Hill Country town. We met the jeweler and had the ring sized and the setting decided, and on Sunday, we drove to Mason County where the actual stone was dug from Texas soil. I can’t wait to get it on my finger.
Unlike the old Holiday Inn slogan, I love surprises, and this turned out to be a rare and beautiful one. I did not even know that the clear topaz, with a slight blue tint, was the official state gem and that it was dug in Mason County. The jeweler also had blue topaz, but they were from Brazil and I wanted the Texas one. Every week I am discovering new and wonderful things about this giant state.
A friend in Florida sent me a book printed in 1945 about Texas, and I am having a ball reading the information contained in it. The collections were done by John Randolph and the illustrations by Mark Storm. The Anson Jones Press in Houston printed the small book. I realize that some of the information may have been updated by now, but it is still fun to contemplate.
Texas covers 263,644 square miles. If you fold Texas northward, Brownsville will be 120 miles into Canada. Fold it eastward and El Paso will be 40 miles into the Atlantic. Fold it westward and Orange will be 215 miles into the Pacific. Texas is both in the South and in the West, but Texans are neither Southerners nor Westerners. They are Texans, which is God’s plenty in itself.
Firsts in Texas include petroleum, gas, carbon black, helium, sulphur,, onions, spinach, pecans, mohair, salt beds, cotton, sheep, roses, mutton, goats, wool, mules, turkeys, hides, railroad mileage, pipe line mileage, watermelons, and tall tales.
To see God’s true handiwork, visit Texas during the spring to see the more than 4,000 varieties of wildflowers. The Hill Country is the perfect canvas for this beauty. Tyler is the rose garden of America and produces more than a third of all U.S. rosebushes. Millions are shipped annually.
Let’s learn to be aware of all of God’s bountiful creation and the beauty all around us. I do not personally want to grow old and realize I have seen what was there, experienced what God provided, and shared it with my friends. God bless Texas.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.