Who Says Texas Has No Seasons?

Travel Blog  •  Sophia Dembling  •  03.10.09 | 9:00 AM ET

Photo by Sophia Dembling

In my previous, non-flyover life in New York City, the first signs of spring were when the forsythia bloomed in Central Park and a ripe and not-unpleasant scent started wafting through my neighborhood from off the Hudson River.

One complaint I’ve heard many times about my current home state, Texas, is that it has no change of seasons. Balderdash. Texas has all four seasons, but they are more subtle than in Northern states.

On my property, the first harbinger of spring is when the trout lilies (pictured) make an appearance. These are shy and short-lived blossoms that hold a tender place in my heart for their rarity. The nearby Cedar Ridge Preserve offers an annual free hike to see their trout lilies in bloom, but I can see them in my own backyard. (OK, the preserve has more. I hiked there last week and saw veritable fields of trout lilies. I had trout lily envy.)

Spring, too, is when the redbud and Bradford pear trees—common in my neighborhood—burst into blooms of pink and white, respectively. Other trees seem bathed in mists of gentle green, as leaf buds test the air, which has grown moist (even in our current drought) and has an earthy scent. All around my neighborhood, daffodils and tulips bloom.

One day, I’ll step into my yard to a riot of robins on every branch, taking a break from their migration north. Finches move back into our finch house, bustling importantly in preparation for their brood. The morning serenade of birds becomes robust as territory is staked out and mates are sought. At an otherwise undistinguished, even unattractive, intersection near my home, huge flocks of purple martins swoop and soar and gather on wires in a mesmerizing display.

And spring is storm season, much to the delight of TV newscasters, who now have important information to impart and do so with exuberant gravity. The storms of Texas are unmatched spectacles of wind, rain, thunder and lightning. They can be dangerous, of course, and Texans all have plans for when the tornado sirens wail. Our plan includes a closet that must be first emptied of vacuum cleaners and old pillows and such before we can take shelter.

Spring in Texas is tragically short. “The Beast is approaching,” my husband likes to say ominously. Too soon, summer will settle in, with its relentless heat and tedious sunshine.

But for now, today, we can revel in spring. Glorious spring.

Hey, Iowa, can you smell spring yet? Wisconsin? Oregon? Florida? What is spring like in your corner of the country?

Sophia Dembling

Dallas-based writer Sophia Dembling is co-author of the Flyover America blog and author of "The Yankee Chick's Survival Guide to Texas." She would love to hear your tales of America, so drop her an email.

15 Comments for Who Says Texas Has No Seasons?

Chris 03.10.09 | 11:15 AM ET

I always thought the seasons in Texas were Hot and Really Hot.

In North Alabama we had snow on the ground (close to an inch!) last Sunday and by Wednesday it was in the 70s F. Our weather tends to be pretty schizophrenic that way. In January we hit single digits and a few days later in was in the 60s F.

Sophia Dembling 03.10.09 | 12:39 PM ET

Sounds kinda like the changeable Texas weather.

Actually, our seasons are Storms, Fire Ants, Crickets and Really Hot.

Hal Amen 03.10.09 | 2:00 PM ET

I love TX thunderstorms! Of course, down in San Antonio we don’t get the tornadoes, so all the better.

Sophia Dembling 03.10.09 | 2:20 PM ET

Yup, our thunderstorms are the thrilling and beautiful. Nature’s libido, I call them in my book.

Seong Kim 03.10.09 | 5:03 PM ET

I don’t mean to be overly critical, but sometimes I feel like World Hum has started to drift away from its real core of travel writing and a lot of the content is “travel-ish” writing. 

Not to pick on this article, but it seems to be more about a place than travel.  OK I guess it is a little related to travel since it is about a place, but it just seems like so many of the articles lately have been “travel-ish.”

Ok the series of pieces on the Grand Trunk Road in India were really great, but a lot of the other articles seem to just be content.  World Hum is doing well raising its web profile, but what happened to the real solid travel writing that evokes the unknown and discovery?

Darrin DuFord 03.10.09 | 5:08 PM ET

I’ve been to Houston a half dozen times, but I always seem to miss cricket season.  That kinda sounds like fun.

Sophia Dembling 03.10.09 | 5:32 PM ET

Hi Seong Kim—I definitely see your point and would never argue that this is my best post ever : ), but I do think these blogs are a little different from the main content of the site.

My goal (and I think Jenna would agree) for Flyover America is to make people think of places all over America, make them curious about seeing all that’s here, and generally, over time, paint a picture of America. (Plus being entertaining.) I think writing about place, and being travel-ish, works towards that goal.

After all, Darrin here is already planning a trip to Houston for cricket season. (Late summer and fall, Darrin. And did you know crickets can kick up a stench?)

And, in the strictly practical sense, Flyover America requires four posts a week. We can’t write travelogue for all of them or we would be traveling too much to earn a living.

Seong Kim 03.10.09 | 5:46 PM ET

I didn’t mean to knock your post at all.  I probably should have posted my comment somewhere else since it doesn’t have so much to do with the travel blog as much as it was just a general comment for the site.  No knock against your writing intended.

Jim Benning 03.10.09 | 6:12 PM ET

Hi Seong Kim,

I liked Sophia’s post, and I also think you make a fair point about the site overall. It’s a work-in-progress, and we’ll keep your feedback in mind. As you know, we’re suckers—all of us here—for writing that evokes discovery.

Michael Yessis 03.10.09 | 10:42 PM ET

Thanks for the feedback, Seong Kim. I don’t have much to add to the comments from Jim and Sophia, except for this: I think we’ve got some of that real solid travel writing you speak of in the queue in the coming weeks and months. I think you’ll like it.

Sophia Dembling 03.10.09 | 11:07 PM ET

Just one last thought—a lot of the discovery here happens in the wonderful comments. The comments on the Detroit post are really fascinating and even moving. I’m discovering!

Thanks Seong Kim. I do look forward to getting back on the road for more discovery. Life has conspired to keep me in front of my computer, traveling vicariously, the last couple of months.

Stay tuned.

Vicky Hastings 03.11.09 | 1:17 PM ET

We’re on the verge of spring in the Willamette Valley. It’s sunny and clear here today. Last week it felt like spring was already here. The buds are out and flowers about to burst into bloom. Better yet, it’s still light out when we go home from work! Thank you, Daylight Savings Time!

Sophia Dembling 03.11.09 | 1:19 PM ET

I like springing ahead, too, once I adjust my sleeping and eating patterns. I love long summer evenings.

I bet the air smells really good there. And I love your wine, BTW.

Vicky Hastings 03.11.09 | 1:47 PM ET

Every time I return to Oregon after being in another state, the first thing I notice is the crisp, fresh air—and breathe deeply!

Let me know when you’re planning a trip here so you can do the same!


Doug Terry 03.12.09 | 4:47 PM ET

Spring is the season that makes every absent Texan long to return. The air seems to move with a warm caress across the face, the lonely plains and hills ache with beauty and the peculiar emptiness of the soul that Texas causes in many seems, for the moment, to be alright.  The flowers erupt, the grass turns deep green (waiting for summer when it will all go light brown and dead). Big puffy white clouds float across the blue sky and almost anything seems possible in the season ahead.

It should be understood by all that Texas is many different places. There is really no such thing as “north Texas” or “south Texas”. There is, however, a north-east Texas, a north-central Texas and a north -west Texas and, also, a far north-west Texas (the panhandle). So, the seasons mean different things in this big place that seems to run without end from the bayous of Louisiana to the mountains in the south-west.

There is one part of Texas that, at this season, sticks in my mind. It is the part west of Ft. Worth before the desert emptiness of west Texas takes hold, the part of Texas, running to the south, that is still considered part of the great American plains. It is there that people feel happy, pleasantly at peace, for no other reason than they are there, in the plains and with themselves. Texas can be brutal, ugly and, in parts, strike the eastern eye as little more than scattered industrial dumping sites. The plains of Texas are something to behold and even something more to hold and enjoy, if only for a season.

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