The Grass Is Always Greener

Returning To East Texas Can Be A Colorful Experience 

By Jason Jones 

Messenger Reporter 

EAST TEXAS – On several occasions I have heard people who lived in tropical locales respond to remarks regarding how beautiful it must have been with “yeah… but after a while it just turns into white noise.” Perhaps not word-for-word, but definitely something similar. Apparently it rings true for just about everyone everywhere. 

My wife and I have been back in east Texas for a couple of months, and two weeks ago our son and his wife drove from San Antonio for a weekend visit. As he walked in the door, I heard him utter the words I’d said for years every time I made that same drive; “Man… it is so green here.” 

I grew up in Grapeland, Texas. I spent hours and hours driving or riding all over this part of the world. I know it’s green. We live behind the pine curtain. It’s green here always. But I suppose seeing it every single day takes it off the radar. That is until you leave and come back. 

After getting all the formal education I wanted, I ended up joining the Army. I spent time in South Carolina, Colorado, and eventually ended up in San Antonio. My wife and I loved the area, especially the hill country, so we stayed for a while before returning to east Texas to raise our family. We regularly drove up I-35 to San Marcos where we transitioned to Hwy 21, which led us all the way back into Crockett. Near Bastrop, before wildfires took their toll in 2011, passing through the Lost Pines area felt like walking through a doorway to home. It was still a couple of hours from our destination, but those pines gave us a quick glimpse of what awaited us. Inevitably, as we neared Crockett, the ‘green’ comment fell out of my mouth. 

In 2011, a job opportunity took us back to the hill country. We lived in Fredericksburg, Kerrville and briefly in New Braunfels for ten years before home called us back. We loved the area and knew that we lived in a place that many people would like to call home. The hill country is absolutely beautiful. The namesake hills are amazing and provided a spectacular backdrop to everyday life. It’s as awesome to live there as you’d think when you visit. 

Greenery, however, comes at a premium. 

For the most part, the hill country is a nice shade of beige. Aside from the few folks who either have wells or collect rainwater, the only place to find green grass is on a golf course, and even that isn’t a given. Between the south/central Texas heat and the annual droughts, there just isn’t enough water to keep up any sort of greenish hue. Still, it was a beautiful place to live and work. 

East Texas, on the other hand, is beautiful in its own right. There are green places all over the country, but not like here. This place is like a down-home version of the Emerald City. I have no idea if an actual wizard lives here… but I wouldn’t be surprised. 

I think what is surprising, though, is that the story is the same everywhere. While living in Fredericksburg and Kerrville, I regularly heard people who lived there say things like “but there’s nothing to do here.” Laughable, I know. At any given moment you are no more than a stone’s throw from a renowned live music venue or biergarten. There is literally always something to do. For the record, I never heard that phrase uttered in New Braunfels. One must lock themselves inside the garage to avoid any sort of event in New Braunfels. A trip to the grocery store might find you in the middle of a concert or BBQ cookoff, and you’ll have to cross a river full of folks tubing seven days a week, 9 months out of the year. It’s the exception.  

But none of that is different from east Texas. “There’s nothing to do” doesn’t fit here either. This area is busting at the seams with great food and live music. Hunting, fishing and boating requires minimal effort to find, and if you ride a motorcycle, you can log several hundred miles without getting more than 50 miles from home. This place is fantastic. You just have to turn off Netflix to go enjoy it. 

A few roadblocks have kept us from settling in, but we’re on our way. Soon enough my kids will be making regular trips home, and my friends from all over will find their way here for some laughter and maybe a little something from my grill. I expect all their first words to be the same though… 

“Man. It’s so green here.” 

Jason Jones may be reached via email at [email protected] 

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