Livingston, Texas is a small town about a hundred miles north of Houston. The trees that flourish here are basically those that are draught-hardy. Also those that like an acid soil. Eastern red cedar, post oak, blackjack oak, loblolly pine, slash pine, long leaf pine (the three yellow pines) are the major forest trees. In the city, there are lots of redbud, magnolia, some palm, and, of course, dogwood. The dogwood is special to lots of folks. It's branches are thorny, the flower purest while, and a little red dot in the flower's center. Yes, it's been referred to often as the crown of thorns tree. But, it's pretty to all -- Christians, monotheists, atheists, Druids, and heathens. So, it's a good tree.
The city of Livingston, itself, is quite a place. It's a pretty even mixture of folks who have roots of some kind in Mexico, white, and African American. It's an economically healthy town with a broad mix of businesses -- retail, service, logging/lumber, tourist-related. I expected a kind of resentment because I'm from out-of-town, talk with a different accent, and live in what is basically a trailer park. But, no way! Folks here are eager to make contact, talk, and get to know you. It's a pretty comfortable life.
I remember something very significant regarding moves to places far away. In 1977, a faculty member at the University of Minnesota cautioned me as I began my first faculty appointment at Texas A&M: "Be careful down there. Folks are different between here and there." Well, after 17 years, I accepted a position back at the University of Minnesota. Wouldn't you know it, a fellow faculty member at Texas A&M said the same thing, in reverse: "Be careful. Folks up there can be different." Well, yes and no. Mostly, no. Even in the jungle in Nigeria, I found that the biggest difference was in the what you ate or drank as you sat around and chewed the fat with the folks you ran into. In the jungle, my newly found friend sucked on a seed as he and I talked. It was a powerful seed, and I just didn't want any part of it. But, the friend and I talked as he nursed his seed and I nursed my beer. Really, there isn't enough of a difference as you go from here to there . . .