The sun also rises over Slovenia and New York Times on Texas

slovenia wine brda rebulaThe sun rose over Slovenia’s Brda hills yesterday morning as I enjoyed a daybreak walk on the Italian side of the border before heading back to Texas (check out the video below and be sure to turn up the volume to hear the sound of the day’s first church bells in the distance).

After spending nine days as a wine and food sherpa on my friend Adam Japko’s Design and Wine Tour between Venice, Verona, and Cormons (Friuli), I was eager to get back to my family and to the place I’ve called home for the last eight years.

On the first leg of my journey homeward from Venice to Newark, I read Manny Fernandez’s compelling New York Times piece on “What Makes Texas Texas” (published on Saturday).

Everything he writes about the Lone Star State is true, of course.

Both native Californians, he and I are faces of the “new” Texas.

And I share his wonderment at Texan nativism and exceptionalism.

And like him, I still can’t wrap my mind around our politicians’ often bizarre and hateful attitudes. While some of the topoi of Manny’s piece are the usual common places that non-Texans love to chide us for, our political class wholeheartedly deserves our (and your) scorn and even ridicule in my view.

But I also think that Manny has missed some of the fundamental things that make Texans Texans.

I’m thinking of Texans’ seemingly innate politeness (despite their political views).

I’m thinking of Texans’ love of gastronomic tradition. It’s so much more than Tex Mex, people! I’m thinking of Uncle Tim’s gumbo but I’m also thinking of Tony’s tortellini.

I’m thinking of Texans’ musical legacy. Just think of how many famous performers and songwriters Texas has produced — and not just country music stars!

I’m thinking of the humanity that I’ve found her in people stopping on the freeway to help me push my overheated car to the side of the road outside of Waco not long after I arrived.

I’m thinking of my father-in-law, Reverend Randy Branch, a Methodist pastor whose political views are diametrically opposed to mine but who embraces me at every one of our family get-togethers and tells me that he loves me.

I’m thinking about so many things that make Texans Texans.

And I’m thinking about how I awoke early and jet-lagged this morning.

As I watched the sun rise over Texas, one of our micro-Texans crawled into bed with me and said “I missed you, daddy…”

Thanks for being here. I’ll be back tomorrow with more tales of Italy…

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