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A Matter of Perspective

After reading Jennie Ivey’s column about her discussion with a woman on an airplane who was excited to see Tennessee, I thought of a conversation I had with a Texas woman.  When Son and Daughter 2 lived in Dumas, Texas, Husband and I visited them. 

            Dumas, population 15,000, is located in the Texas panhandle, not far from the Oklahoma border.  In fact, only 52 miles from the border town, Texhoma, Oklahoma, and as my granny would say, ‘pretty much in the middle of nowhere.’

            Son had warned us there wasn’t much to see or do in Dumas and suggested he and Daughter 2 meet us somewhere else for a visit, but I wanted to see where they lived.  This region is mostly flat plains, some grass, and more tumbleweed. The few trees are twenty feet tall and windswept, nothing like our trees in Tennessee.  The dominant color of the terrain around Dumas is brown and in most directions I could see to the horizon. 

            “There’s a museum here and we haven’t been because we thought it’d be a fun place to take you,” Son said.  The Window of the Plains Museum sits on the main road that runs north and south thru Dumas.  As I signed the visitor book, I noticed we were the only visitors for the past several days.  The woman behind the welcome desk nodded her greeting, told us to look around, and she’d answer any questions.

            This free museum offers displays of ranching, farming, industry, and family life from the past two centuries. A huge collection of saddles and bridles filled one area, and original art highlighting the plains hung throughout museum. I struck up a conversation with the woman who worked there.

            She explained that most items were donations from local residents and they often had special exhibits on loan and welcomed artwork from the county’s schools.  I understood her pride. “Where you from?” she asked. 

            “Tennessee. I’ve always lived there,” I said.  She wanted to know why we were in Dumas and I explained.  “Have you always lived here?” I asked.  She had and lived just a few miles from the house where she grew up.

            “So you’ve always lived here.  Have you travelled east of the Mississippi?  The landscape is very different,” I said.

            “I went to Kentucky once,” she said and we determined she was just north of Cookeville.

            “You saw what Tennessee looks like.  Green trees, rolling hills.  Really pretty countryside,” I said.

            She nodded.  “I was told Kentucky was beautiful, but I couldn’t see anything.  Those big trees blocked the view.  Here, we can see for miles.  Now that’s a pretty view.”

            There was nothing for me to say.  I understood the plains were as beautiful to her as green rolling hills and trees are to me.  And often when I travel Tennessee highways and back roads, I think of this Texas woman and that she wouldn’t like the big trees that block the view.             To me, the trees are the view and they are beautiful.

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