This was originally published in January 2011 in the San Antonio Express-News.
The Four Seasons of South Texas
I have heard many times that there are only two seasons in South Texas: hot and not so hot. I don’t believe that because it does get below ninety degrees after September and the trees do change colors.
But how do you know the seasons have changed?
I know it’s Spring when I see the first bluebonnets along the side of the road. Spring is a sea of wildflowers and trees budding out along with grass turning green. It’s mornings that have a bit of nip in the air and afternoons that are warm but not too hot. Though if you’ve lived in South Texas for more than a year or two you know to be on the lookout for that last cold front that drops temperatures fifty degrees in one afternoon along with a blast of cold rain. But once that last cold front moves through, it’s blue skies and sun all the time.
Then there is summer, the most famous season in South Texas. Summer is blazing blue skies with a side of haze, and humidity that makes you want to wring out the air. That first blast of heat ignites a burning desire for cold drinks, water parks, and fun. The grass is green if we’ve had rain and brown dust if we haven’t. You see yellow lantana blooms along with hibiscus and bougainvillea in every planter in the city. It’s the smell of barbeque, cold beer and margaritas at every party. It’s ice cream and raspas, shorts and flip flops. And if all else fails, you can find someplace with air-conditioning to get out of the heat.
Fall comes later in this part of the hemisphere though you know it’s here when there’s a chill in the mornings and the afternoons aren’t as hot. It’s traveling through the Hill Country and seeing the trees changing color and the grass turning to light-brown and swaying in the fall winds as you drive to the Hill Country. Then there’s that first blue ‘Norther cold front, and the burnt dust smell when you turn on your heater for the first time. It’s also time to put away the flip flops and pull out the socks.
Finally, Winter comes. Temperatures stay below burning-hot and above bracing cold unless a cold front has blown through. Winter is snuggling in coats as you shop or take in the lights on the Riverwalk. It’s also abundant sunshine on Christmas so kids can go outside and play with all their new toys. It’s bright blue sky, star-filled skies at night, and tamales and sweets at every party in town.
The seasons do change in South Texas in sight and smell, sound and delight. And all you have to do to see that is look at the changing colors and savor the delights of each season. And remember, the cold never lasts more than a few days.
Unlike the heat….