Tag Archives: Panhandle

Ready for the best season of the year

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

You hear it on occasion: This is my favorite time of the year. My favorite season of the year. Most folks I know keep saying it’s the autumn.

Why? They’ve been through a grueling, boiling-hot summer. The cooler temperatures are a welcome respite from the heat.

That’s not for me. My favorite time of the year is about to arrive. I love the spring. In Texas, spring produces an unusual and often unpredictable series of events.

We have spent 36 winters in Texas. We came initially to the Golden Triangle on the Gulf Coast. Winter in Southeast Texas occasionally was, well, rather un-winterlike. We spent our first Christmas in Beaumont — in 1984 — lounging around in shorts and t-shirts.

Nearly 11 years later we gravitated to the opposite end of the state, settling for 23 years in the Panhandle. The winter there was, shall I say, more like winter in most regions of the world. It got cold … damn cold at times! We had winters with heavy blankets of snow. We also had one hideously dry winter that didn’t produce a single drop of precipitation.

We have moved to the Metroplex. This is our second winter here. It’s been a bit chilly, although not as cold as it often gets up yonder on the Caprock.

Spring is about to arrive. The grass will snap out of its dormancy. The leaves will produce buds. It’s a time of renewal. A time of rebirth. A time that will give way to the fruits and flowers of the season.

Spring in the Panhandle occasionally produces some explosive weather. The wind howls. The storm clouds swirl. It rains hard, man. It would hail on us.

The Metroplex occasionally produces that kind of frightening weather. However, I look forward yet again to the time of year when we spring forward and emerge from our winter doldrum.

It’s my favorite time.

Trying to shake the blues

I must admit to feeling a bit melancholy these past few days.

Perhaps you know why. My mother-in-law passed away nearly a week ago. I wrote about her just the other day. We laid her to rest Friday in a cemetery near us in Collin County, just a few minutes north of us.

This kind of emotional response is to be expected. It’s happened to be many times before at the loss of loved ones: my parents, my grandmothers and one of my grandfathers (the fourth grandparent died when I was an infant), several of my beloved aunts and uncles.

As we have done in the past, we likely are going to seek to cure this feeling of loss by sharing memories of my mother-in-law.

She lived for 93 years. She was a big part of our life for more than 20 years, notably with her retirement in 1997 at the age of 72. We moved her from Oregon to Amarillo, Texas in May 1997; she lived with my wife and me in our newly built house for about 11 years. It was the right decision for us and for her at the time.

Time, though, took its toll on her. We eventually moved her into a residence set aside for the elderly. Then she needed assisted living. Finally, she moved to a nursing home, which is where she died.

I am feeling a bit blue at this moment. Yes, I’ll get over it. So will my wife and my sons, both of whom have many grand memories of Grandma upon which they will be able to draw.

I have them, too. So does my wife.

I am left merely to acknowledge what we all know to be the obvious, which is that death is part of life.

Texas city becomes environmental pioneer

Who would have thought that a Texas city would blaze an impressive environmental trail?

Georgetown has announced plans to become the first city in Texas to use renewable energy sources for all its power needs.

Is this the start of something environmentally revolutionary?


Georgetown is in Central Texas. It owns the utility company. Thus, it is able to convert to wind and solar energy exclusively, no longer over time relying on fossil fuels.

Are you paying attention to this, Amarillo, which has abundant sun and even more abundant wind.

OK, the cities are different. Amarillo does not own the utility company that provides electricity to the city’s 200,000 residents. Xcel Energy controls the source of fuel it receives to power its energy plants.

It’s a hopeful sign nevertheless to see a Texas city — which happens to be near the capital city, Austin — engaging in this kind of ecological pioneering.

According to the Texas Tribune: “Because of its size and intense radiation, Texas leads the nation in solar energy potential, but the solar industry has long struggled to get a foothold in the state, as policymakers have provided fewer incentives than other states, and solar energy currently makes up a tiny percentage of the state’s energy portfolio.

“That’s beginning to change.

“Improving technology has driven down the price of solar power, making it more competitive with other resources­ — even without extra incentives, developers say. That trend has sparked what some industry experts describe as a small “land rush” in West Texas, and it’s increasingly convincing utilities that solar power is workable.”

Texas already has joined California among the nation’s leading producers of wind energy. That’s a hopeful sign as well of a commitment to renewables in a state that has relied for more than a century on fossil fuel — oil and natural gas — to fill its energy needs.

Here’s hoping this decision by a single Texas city is a harbinger of a cleaner energy future.