Do yourself a favor if you’re ever in the northeastern part of the Texas panhandle and stop in at the town of Canadian. I was there recently, for just a short time, and now I think I’ve developed a bit of crush on the whole town. The topography is different from what I am used to in Lubbock – which is to say they HAVE topography. There’s a vibrant downtown, a sign on the edge of town that lists the local festivals and the list is too long to read when you drive by, a designated cultural district, and a world-class art museum. And the artist Doug Ricketts is nearby; I am fortunate to own several pieces of his fabulous furniture.
I am already trying to figure out when I can get back up there for a couple of days…
But all that aside, it was a foggy, drippy day when I visited, which meant that I got see the little diamond-like drops of mist hanging on the chain-link fence around the town’s swimming pool. And here’s the thing – I go to a lot of little towns around this part of Texas and most of the town swimming pools are permanently closed down. So, kudos to Canadian: their pool is still open in the summer!
Here’s another view of this storm, taken just south of the Canadian River.
The geography here is known as the Breaks, rough and rugged terrain that’s very different from what you’d expect to see on the Plains. Barry Lopez’s excellent book Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape describes it this way:
Breaks, in the western United States, are tracts of rough, broken land, similar to badlands, that are of little commercial or utilitarian value – stretches of terrain, cracked and fissured by arroyos and ravines, nearly impossible to negotiate for any distance on foot or by horse. A dramatic example is found in the Texas Panhandle, where the course of the Canadian River abruptly fractures the smooth face of the Llano Estacado into a virtual bedlam of steep hills and tight passages.
There’s bedlam, too, in the sky above the breaks.
near the Canadian River
Roberts County, Texas