Two-steppin’ in honky tonks, sawdust on the floor.

The fundamental religions of tacos and smoked meats.

Chicken-fried-chicken with jalapeno gravy.

Corn or flour, refried or charro, frozen or on-the-rocks.

Willie, McConaughey, and Don’t Mess with Texas.

Yes ma’am, no sir, ya’ll and all ya’ll.

Skinny-legged cowboys who tip their big hats.

Breaking and befriending horses as if anyone could.

Herds of cattle, longhorn steers, ranchers in dusty, white trucks.

Birds, bugs, critters, all the spiders and snakes.

Your seashores, seafood, pink birds and whooping cranes.

Your mesas and flatlands – how can you be so big?

Small, dying towns giving way to large, thriving cities.

Clocking tumbleweeds with a radar gun.

Cotton bales the size of small busses.

Antelope on open plains, big cat tracks on hiking trails, bear scat near the tent.

Mile-long trains with engines on both ends.

Deserts and valleys and haunted ghost towns.

Your dark, bright skies and crowded, lonely bars.

Guns and flags and more guns.

King Ranch trucks, King Ranch casseroles, and King Ranch – bigger than Rhode Island.

Miles of wind farms and billboards about Jesus.

Pump jacks producing oil and money, and the pain that comes with it.

Driving 75 on rough, narrow farm-to-market roads and 25 on newly paved, five-lane expressways.

Every style of music, in every type of venue.

Springs that last forever, summers that leave a mark.

Men wearing flip flops and wanting them to stop.

Brides wearing cowboy boots with their wedding dress.

Hats and hat bands, Don’t Mess with Those either.

All those Texas sayings and the day they all made sense.

And most of all, the three horses who taught me how to be a better human.

You’re much more than your labels and it’s not about your size.

Your ego is exhausting, your humility sterling.

You’re surprisingly simple and cunningly complex.

You’ve got raw authenticity and superficial gloss.

You welcomed me when I was broken, an orphan with a dream.

Undeterred by my pain, you refused to let me feed it.

You showed me how to heal and reminded me how to feel.

You knocked me down to show me I could get back up.

You embraced me with vulpine spirit so I could soak up your strength.

Your huge heart helped to pry mine back open.

You showed me how to live, to laugh, and to love again.

Goodbye, Sweet Texas.

I’d hug you if I could.