From Maple Syrup to Corn Bread, it’s no secret that the USA shares a warm friendship with Canada, and who doesn’t love a good Canadian amidst the diversity of personalities that make up Texas? You can’t miss them– they are the ones that wear shorts and flip flops for 12 months of the year, or if it becomes “dangerously” [enter eye roll here] close to say slightly above freezing you might see the Canadian with a sweater on. Only if there is wind. They have the uncanny ability to walk outside in all kinds of weather, and they don’t seem to be bothered by this. They can walk to the hot tub with merely a robe on and even magically walk on ice– with cleats. Those “canucks” that surreptitiously crossed over the border and settled in Texas are fairly decent and easy-going people. I should know because I am one of them. In 2021, I left the Motherland of maple syrup and poutine, sold my igloo, sold my dog sled and my shovel, and crossed the imaginary dotted line between Alberta and Montana and started to head east. It was about [for the Texans- they seem to hear “about” as “a boot” but I digress. It was about a three-and-a-half-day journey across a handful of beautiful states before I reached the state sign of Texas with the Lone Star of red, white, and blue proudly displayed, and then south to the Fort Worth area. The goal was never to see snow again unless I went back to ski. Home would soon be in the Eagle Mountain Lake area, to retire from my years as an educator and open up a Bed and Breakfast. Texas, and “the Texans,” as I often tease my mighty cohort friends, have captured my heart. They are a fiercely loyal and loveable bunch, and their generosity of spirit is above no other.
They seem to put up with my ways with a mere smile, they haven’t really pushed me to convert, and they seem to accept my Canadianisms just fine. They have their own language that I can decipher but have tried really hard not to pick up. They don’t speak in mixed metaphors– mostly, they just have made-up phrases that they all seem to understand. Words like “fixin” and “dag nabbit,” they pronounce “roof” like “ruff,” and a jug of “tea” is in every refrigerator and on every menu. There is “momma” and “daddy.” Pecan is NOT pronounced “pee-can”; apparently, that is a can one finds in a boat, but “puh-khan” is what you will hear. “Here is your Puh Khannnn pie Ma’am!”… “I reckon” is also a popular turn of phrase. When I say “eh” I might get back, “I reckon you aren’t from around these parts?” I reckon you’d be right, I am from over yonder that dotted line on their map. “That dog don’t hunt” is my most recent lesson of dismissive Southernisms; the plan will fail, something disagreeable is what it means. I somewhat feel the dog won’t hunt because it is likely 107 outside, but that is far too literal for this crew. I finally enjoyed my first “iiiiccccceee tea” just last week. They have an accent, the “southern” accent as we northerners would say. They have the drawl, things are stretched out. For instance, ice. It’s just ICE. But for the Texan, it is IIIIIISSSCE. “Oh my lands” can be heard at least twice a week on my street, and “y’all” is ubiquitous in the south. Y’all come back now. Y’all see that? Y’all going away? Y’all want dessert? With BBQ sauce on it? For a retired English teacher, it flies in the face of proper and true grammar. But y’all seem not to notice it. Well, “bless your heart,” and “Aren’t you precious,” they say… In the stores, the cashiers will tell you to have a “blessed day,” which I do think is very, very sweet. The kids call the adults “ma’am and sir,” which took me a bit to get used to, but I do find myself [now] “saying yes ma’am and no sir,” and not being facetious about it. Kids are “kiddos,” and the school system has 408 acronyms that only the Texans know and no interloper could ever possibly learn. The Texas school system keeps those a very hush-hush secret for those outlanders to flail through. Last year I spent 10 months at Boswell High School in Saginaw, teaching Senior English and learning “Texan.” It was almost the end of the year when I finally learned what EOC stood for– “End of Course.” LOL! Oh, I laughed out loud at that one I tell y’all… It’s not July 4th, it’s the “4th of July.” Last year this event lasted for four days. I was starting to wonder when I would be able to go to sleep before midnight. Fireworks, parties every evening, the lake, the pool, and a lot of meat with BBQ sauce on it. There was no shortage of food, places to be, things to see, and margaritas to enjoy. I must say, the Texans do this holiday very well.
However, Texans tend to drive as if their pants are on fire. Every. Single. Day. If I am not driving 97 mph, I best be “fixin” to be in the right lane or stopped at a red light, adjusting my helmet. The only thing missing on any interstate, byway, or highway is the guy with the flag waving to start the race. I swear they all wear goggles and gloves and have funny finger gestures as they whiz past… And my personal favorite is when I am backing out of my parking stall. I can be out, and I mean OUT, all the way out. In the middle of the parking lot. And along comes a dude in his ginormous pickup truck, his fingers flailing as he honks and goes around your eyes blazing. The Texans are always in a hurry. Lucky for me I developed speed back in Canada, but even I take an Upper and a Red Bull before I leave my driveway.
What sends me into copious gales of laughter is the weather and the Texans’ lack of appreciation of how great they have it here. It’s HOT in the summer. The Texans complain that it is “too hot” but dang they are not moving to Colorado, where it is too “cold.” I love the heat. I wander around sweating all the gin and tonic toxins and Cayman Jacks out of my body. I double up on beer margaritas and gleam sweat. I love it.
Again, it appears that I am the only one on my street in the summer. Where are the Texans? In the air conditioning. Too hot. September comes, and all the ladies are now in sweaters and pants and boots. BOOTS. Oh, it is a season of change! No, it is still over 100, but dang it, it’s sweater weather now. They hibernate come February. A winter storm? LOCK DOWN, LOCK DOWN, LOCK DOWN… the stores are chaos, water cannot be found, fill the car up, and then one stays home for a week. The Texans panic in February. No one dares to leave the street except me. I leave to walk the dog. I am the only sign of life out there during a winter storm. No Texan I know has a winter coat, gloves or hat, toque, we Canadians say, or boots because they simply do not leave the house past a certain temperature. They admit they cannot do cold, and they cannot for the life of them figure out how Canadians live through winter. But, currently, I am ready for the pool.
*Colleen McCullough is the owner of The Virginia May Bed and Breakfast @ Eagle Mountain Lake