I’ve had a couple of slow realizations. They started the other day on our trip south of town when I saw the quiet contradiction of space in these parts: the horizon is huge and empty and the feeling of space is profound, but look closely and you realize that this tiny ribbon of road is all you’ve got because those open spaces are private land of which every inch is fenced in and protected by very serious no trespassing signs. Even the road feels restricted when you have to stop and go through the border patrol check point. The streets of this tiny town are the only place for…how many many miles?…that you are allowed to roam free.

And then there is the overall issue of spending time outside, which people don’t seem to generally do here. This is a small town, but there is hardly a person to be seen except in cars. Maybe this is because the weather is a crazy-maker: you go from hot to cold every other minute based on access to sun or shade and whether or not you are protected from the wind. The sun feels gloriously warm—until it starts to feel like a laser burning through your clothes. And this is February. Even if you are facing away from the sun, it is so bright and so intense that sunglasses are essential. The wind is constant and blows walls of dirt and sand across the street and through the yard, making sitting outside or taking a walk kind of a drag.

None of those things are very positive observations and that kind of surprises me—I didn’t expect to feel confined and cold in West Texas. Still I am glad we are here.