Native Son: Road Trip “Torture”
The misfortune started quickly…an extra sausage patty on my jalapeno cheddar biscuit.
There’s just nothing more miserable than Texas in the springtime. Azure skies accented with little puffy clouds, mosquito-free gardening, and, ugh…temperatures soaring into the seventies. And that means low electric bills! And worst of all, we’ve got millions of those annoying butterflies flitting cheerfully above rainbow blankets of wildflowers that sprawl out across every mile of road between Uncertain and El Paso. I mean, honestly…how’s a curmudgeon supposed to put up with all of this?
Yet, in spite of this environmental horror, I pack up and head out for an East Texas road trip. Went through Big D without so much as having to tap the brakes. C’mon…where’s a good, old-fashioned bumper to bumper nightmare when you need one? The Buc-ee’s in Terrell was simply awful…friendly people, bubbly soda, tasty sandwiches, and a spotless restroom. Smooth sailing right into Quitman, where I gave my “Peace, Love, & Milagros” presentation to the sweetest group of folks you’ve ever seen. We hugged and chatted until they finally packed up a to-go plate of homemade treats for me to enjoy on the road. Abject misery.
Had to endure two days in Tyler, visiting lovely gardens and putting up with the likes of Greg Grant, Keith Hanson, and Chris Wiesinger. I mean, just how much perfect hospitality, intelligent conversation, and affable fellowship can one endure? AND, they all drive nice new trucks! Disgusting…
Greg moved up to Tyler a few months ago to take over Keith’s old job (when Keith retired as the Smith County Agri-Life Extension Agent), downsizing into a new apartment & tiny garden as part of the deal.
And as irritating as Greg is, Chris is even worse. Smart as a whip, blessed with eternal youthful looks, well-mannered & ultra-polite, married to a regal beauty, and father to a little girl who could charm ten dollars off Jack Benny…who could like a guy like that?
Soon afterward, I got hoodwinked into the royal tour around Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, including some time in the Weeping Baldcypress Tunnel, the Mexican Sugar Maple (Acer skutchii) Grove, and the Mize Arboretum…all of which threatened to kill my sour disposition, but I held on tight. Fortunately, I was able to shake off the feeling of peaceful contentment which settled on me following a walk on the new labyrinth. People don’t seem to appreciate the effort it takes for me to remain cantankerous.
I thought I’d finally lost it all when Houston disappointed me with free-flowing highways, delicious cuisine, and warm-hearted people. I had been looking forward to a big bowl of grouch, smothered and covered with dyspeptic crabbiness. But no, I had to stomach delightful accommodations and the most pleasant group of Southern ladies around. Fortunately, I did find one exceedingly irritating soul…that unflappable voice on the GPS who constantly tried to goad me onto every toll road in Texas.
Eventually, I ended up at The Arbor Gate in Tomball, northwest of Houston. I barely survived the bliss. Incredible plant selection, inspired demonstration gardens, superb array of beautiful containers and every other garden accoutrement…and a small herd of friendly, knowledgeable staff to help you put it all together correctly, the first time…it simply broke my heart. I went to a lot of trouble to find something to gritch about, but it was hopeless. The final straw was owner Beverly Welch’s cheerful kindness…cracked my crankiness…overwhelmed my orneriness…erased my irascibility.
Ultimately, I was forced to enjoy the ride home. Verdant pastures with grazing horses, meadows blanketed with wildflowers, stock tanks full to the brim…maybe I’ll get lucky enough to be pulled over and get into an inspired roadside altercation with Barney Fife.
I need a road trip! I’d love to come out and speak to your group. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and I’ll go just about anywhere…no city too big; no town too small. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work something out.
Come see me at Chandor Gardens! Call 817-613-1700 or go to www.chandorgardens.com for details.