Saturday, February 24th 2007
Tumbleweeds and Wranglers (Yep. I’m a Texan with a TItle Like That)

I’m a West Texas girl. I grew up in Ft. Worth – which is about a 6-7 hour drive from here. West Texas can be WINDY with a capital W (and capital INDY, too.) We have our usual Dirt Storms. No, not dust storms – DIRT storms. The sky turns the color of dirt – there may be road closings due to poor visibility. Power outages are a probability. There may be tumbleweeds as large as cars flying through the air. Small children can easily, accidentally, become airborne.  It can get ugly.

Today was such a day.  The kids stood at the window and watched as all sizes of tumbleweeds flew up the street in front of our house. When my mom is visiting, she calls them Tumbleweed Races. The kids LOVE to watch Tumbleweed Races. My favorites are the ones that fly by, about 10 feet off the ground, and they never come down to earth to bounce. Those crack me up every time.

So pretty much everyone stays inside if at all possible and any outings are postponed or cancelled. No problem. But what may surprise you is that even in a very nice house, you get dirt in your teeth. Yes. Really. The air smells of dirt, it lines the windowsills, even though the windows are sealed inside and out. The wind wails, the garage door moans loudly, and the whole house creaks incessantly as if it’s about to split apart. The animals hide. The kids CANNOT take naps for pete’s sake, and anything you might have had outside (toys, pets, patio furniture – no matter how heavy) – well, it’s probably still outside, but not necessarily contained by a big fence and probably in someone else’s yard. Someone else in another county, possibly.

I know my way around a Dirt Storm now, but it wasn’t always that way.  When I first moved out here, I was amazed at this sort of weather. I didn’t know that really it would be better just to give away ALL wraparound skirts, because they would never be safe to wear in this town.  The wind is always blowing here, even when it’s ‘calm’ and those skirts are asking for trouble. Skip that trend, oh silly college girl. Also give away any shirts or skirts of a really flimsy fabric. Unless you have a REALLY good "Marylin Monroe style oops my dress is flying up" pose. And i do not.  (When I learned this lesson, i struck a "nuh UH, who saw that?" frantic pose, which is neither becoming or worth repeating. ever.)

And also? Don’t walk between parked cars on really, really windy days, or at least carry lots of extra books in a backpack. I learned that when I got picked up by a gust of wind and slammed into a parked red sports car. Its alarm went off, just to call some extra attention to my ‘learning experience.’

Many years ago a friend and I (also new to the West) were at her apartment, and she was determined to grill salmon on her barbecue. I don’t know why, now that I think about it. Something went wrong, and she wanted me to go to the store and get more while she manned the grill. I remember us talking about what it meant for a "Blue Norther" to come through. All day we had heard it on the radio. Between the two of us, all we had gathered was that the temperature would drop instantly by at least 20 degrees. It was in the 70s, and a beautiful night. It didn’t seen likely. I mean, how does temperature just DROP that much, and that quickly? We couldn’t picture it.

Off I went to the store for salmon. I was in there for just a couple of minutes, and when I was exiting, there was a really tall cowboy in front of me. About 8 feet in front of me. He wore Wranglers. Tight wranglers. And a hat. As he was 8 feet in front of me, he exited the grocery store and I noticed he immediately pulled his cowboy hat on a little lower.

And then… he wasn’t 8 feet in front of me anymore. He wasn’t 8 inches in front of me. When I got to the exact line where the inside of the store met the outside, a gust of wind picked me up and whoooshed me 8 feet forward and plastered me against his backside.

Talk about awkward.

And Cowboy, being apparently From the West and all, didn’t seem all that fazed. I don’t remember apologizing, but knowing me I probably did a few thousand times. He made sure I had my feet on the ground, asked me to point out my car, and walked me there, holding my right arm with both of his in case I went flying off into the COLD night air again.

I was so shocked at the bizarre weather that I forgot to be all that embarrassed until later. But Cowboy put me in my car and gave me a stern look and said… (YES this really happened, and YES he really said this. I know you’re going to wonder because it’s just so weird, so i’m telling you now. Yes, already.)   

he said with a serious, stern expression, "Now you go straight home. Skinny little women like you shouldn’t be out on a night like this."

My mouth hung open a bit, and he shut my door and walked off to his truck. That was also when i learned that in a Dirt Storm in the West, you never ever open your mouth unless you have something important that must be said. And you certainly don’t just let it hang open for no good reason at all. It gets dirty, so shut it already.

So. Blue Northers are rare, Dirt Storms are not. But the mystery of how the temperature was just going to drop instantly was solved. It involved, of course, wind. And a lot of it. The Cowboy, wranglers, and grilled salmon with a best friend i wish I still knew…? Just extras.


20 Comments on “Tumbleweeds and Wranglers (Yep. I’m a Texan with a TItle Like That)”

February 24th, 2007
9:09 pm

Too funny! We’re getting dirt out here they say is coming from West Texas. So far no skinny little girls, but one in particular I wouldn’t complain about, if she were to fly in. ;-)

February 24th, 2007
9:27 pm

Now that was laugh out loud, spit out my coffee, Holy Mama humor!

Love it!

Not the dirty air, though, pah.

Hope it settles down a bit here (and there) soon.

February 24th, 2007
9:28 pm

Holy cow! I remember when I was about three years old, being afraid that the wind would pick me up and blow me away, but as an adult, I didn’t think that was possible…except in a tornado or something. Yeesh!

That whole cowboy thing sounds like the start of a chick-lit novel. You should write it.

Oh, and I’ll take our Minnesota snow dump over your dirty wind any day. Dirt in your teeth…eewww.

February 24th, 2007
10:48 pm

We had a day like that today in OKC. I had the windows open and the front door was letting in all this fresh air, and then all of a sudden the sky was the color of Oklahoma red dirt and the beautiful Spring day turned into a bundle-up, its-gonna-snow kinda day. I had to laugh out loud, I Loved this post!


February 25th, 2007
11:17 am

Wow, glad none of that happened when we spent a week in Texas! LOL What an adventure!
Was he at least a good looking cowboy? Its gotta be more fun that way.

February 25th, 2007
12:06 pm

ROFLMAO! You know what’s worse? The entire time I was reading this I was thinking, “She’s too little to be out in those storms! No wonder she’s having so much trouble. Now if she had bones like MINE, she’d fine.”

LOL! That was a hilarious story. I loved it.

Grim Reality Girl
February 25th, 2007
6:06 pm

That story blew me away! (someone had to say it!)

Okay, not only am I jealous that you are small enough to be blown away in a storm; but I now appreciate my snow and ice more. Thank you. Who knew I’d prefer snow and ice to DIRT storms? I would have to clean if there were a dirt storm. Ew, dirt.

February 26th, 2007
9:02 am

Heh – the best part of one of our dirt storms is finding all the new stuff that blows into your yard! I won’t tell you how many times we vacuumed up sand from our entryway Saturday – and I’ll be mopping tonight. Again. Ugh.

February 26th, 2007
9:10 am

I would love to see tumbleweed.

February 26th, 2007
10:14 am

That is just too funny! I have never been in wind that bad. I can’t imagine what it’s like!

February 26th, 2007
10:15 am

This is one of my all-time favorite Kelsey-is-new-to-the-West stories. I miss watching the tumbleweed races with the kids, but not the gritty mouth feeling. While on the subject of weird West Texas weather, you should talk about what it’s like when it starts to rain red mud…

February 26th, 2007
12:28 pm

Oh, I would go out time and time again in those storms if some nice Cowboy would call me skinny… This is absolutely brilliant, Kels. I’m just really glad that you didn’t have the sense to be embarrassed until AFTER he left…

This reminds me of last spring when I took up running (if you want to call it that – it was more like a very slow wheezing event). The wind was blowing so hard and fast, it about knocked me down the hill next to where I was jogging. Seriously I was struggling to keep on sidewalk in an upright position. That’s only a good reminder of how weak 5’2″, *** lbs really can be.

I only wish I had it on video. I’d totally love to see how stupid it looked to the cars driving by me at the time.

February 26th, 2007
2:08 pm

That is a great story.

February 26th, 2007
10:07 pm

I was a Western Kansas girl and only experienced one dirt storm, but it is seared in my memory.

Have you ever been buried in tumbleweeds? Another searing memory. Drifted up over houses like snow.

Can’t say I miss it. ;)

February 27th, 2007
6:00 pm

I mostly lurk ’round here but I just snorted Coke out of my nose while reading your cowboy quote. No, no, the DIET kind. Love your blog. :)

March 21st, 2007
9:13 am

HA!! That’s too funny! And I’m at work reading this…..I gotta be careful….. shhhh. :o )

March 24th, 2007
6:39 pm

I was born in west Texas, Tulia to be exact, and though I didn’t live there long, we return often for family reunions and such. I did live in a little tiny west Texas town called Crowell for a few years after I got married. I remember dirt storms — and reading this post made me want to go brush my teeth and get the gritty feeling out of my mouth. I do miss those tall cowboys in the tight wranglers, though. Yes Ma’am!


April 22nd, 2007
1:25 pm

I LOVE this story! I think the wind is the only thing i don’t like about my hometown of Odessa, but even that makes it “home.” Thanks for sharing, this. I have been trying to capture some of what Texas is all about for my site and i think Cowboy and his quote sum it up nicely. lol. still grinning here. Windy season’s not over yet, so hold on to somethin’!


June 10th, 2010
4:47 pm

[...] Kelsey. How’s the weather in Texas? Have you seen any more tumbleweeds [...]


[...] to visit. I hadn’t seen her in more than 10 years. She’s the one I talk about losing at the end of this post, and the one I cried about here. (Although that crying was also knee pain.)  And now we talk all [...]

Leave a comment

CommentLuv badge