The two-hour drive between San Antonio and Corpus Christi on I-37 is incredibly boring, mostly ranch or farm land with few trees, a handful of gas stops/rest areas, and a smattering of houses. This particular stretch of highway has been an unvarying part of every trip to visit my daughter and three grandchildren in Bishop several times a year. No matter where the starting point has been – Austin, Canyon Lake, or New Braunfels – for this corridor, I wish there was a conveyor belt to which I could hook up the car, so I didn’t have to pay attention to the road. San Antonio radio stations get staticky around Oakville, while the Corpus stations aren’t quite ready to take over. So, CDs are a must, when I remember to bring them, which I rarely do. 😦
However, spring isn’t so bad. If it has rained a goodly amount in November and December, then glorious eye-catchers will abound in March and April. It’s hard to beat Texas wildflowers! Tourists and Texans alike will stop and brave whizzing-by traffic to take pictures of the gorgeous displays.
What I dislike the most about using I-37 is seeing the fallow fields of the coastal plains. South Texas farmers plant crops only once a year, although the weather is warm enough for a second growing season. Milo and cotton are grown the most. It’s only been in recent years that corn has been planted. South Texas farmers are dry land farmers, meaning they do not irrigate. They depend solely on rain, because the water table has too much salt content for the plants. There is no organic farming going on in South Texas either. Heavens to Betsy, no! These guys prefer tons of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. They do not plant winter rye to renourish the soil after cotton depletes the nutrients; they just don’t replant cotton in the same field the next year. Plus, coastal plains’ farmers receive subsidies some years for not planting crops due to federal surpluses, resulting in their fields sometimes remaining fallow in the regular season as well. Another issue is that Texas is prone to periodic droughts, and Gulf of Mexico winds blow away a lot of topsoil – a future dust bowl or desert in the making. (I lived in Nueces County for over twenty years and observed what the farmers did and did not do.)…Driving past fallow fields disgusts me.
Fallow coastal plains farmland along I-37. Similar fallowness along U.S. Hwy. 77.
Anyway, I was returning home yesterday, heading north on I-37, when I noticed a very long banner attached to a fence in front of two large, beige metal buildings with brown trim and slightly rounded roofs. Hmmm, I hadn’t noticed them on the way down to my daughter’s two days earlier. Dozens of pickup trucks and suburbans shared the parking area between the buildings and the fence. I was driving 75mph out in the middle of nowhere, when huge letters clearly announced to highway travelers that this was “Brush Country Cowboy Church.”
My first thought was: Where is the steeple or cross? My next one was: Oh, brother, only in Texas! Then I got a little ticked. I pictured the congregation consisting almost entirely of rednecked men in head-to-toe cowboy attire. Why do cowboys think they need a separate church? Do cowboys have different troubles than anybody else? Are the sermons filled with ranch and rodeo metaphors? These questions and more occupied my mind for nearly ten minutes as I drove along the highway past miles and miles of flat ranch land occasionally dotted with cattle of various colors that were munching on dry winter grass and brush.
This morning, curious for clarification, I searched for and found said church online: http://www.brushcountrycowboychurch.com/ The congregation is filled with cowboys and cowgirls – young, old, and in between. Hardworking men and women with good hearts trying to get through life, build families, and take care of each other as best they can – just like everybody else. But, not every church has its own rodeo!