Every once in a while I see or experience something that reminds me of where I live.
Texas . . . , in particular, which is where the West begins. ( Fort Worth is where the East ends, by the way. Who knows what all that stuff in between is. . .) Well, I was idling at a traffic stop in broad daylight one day when a tumbleweed blew by. I couldn’t decide if it was a western icon to proud of and marveled at, or if I was watching the butt end of a million jokes roll across my path. Dallas
When I think of a tumbleweed, I think barren wasteland, desolation, desert, lonesomeness, cowboy showdowns, good, bad, and ugly. But when this tumbleweed tumbled, there were no barbed wire fences, boot spurs, or saloons in sight. Just a gas station, a fast food restaurant, and hybrid cars. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. A tumbleweed.
A wandering tumbleweed is often a way to punctuate a bad joke or an awkward silence in a movie. It can be used to symbolize the untamed frontier as well as to poke fun at it. A tumbleweed spotting is in most cases, a comically random event. Where do tumbleweeds even come from?
The answer is: lots of places. Tumbleweed is a behavior, not a specific plant. Many different types of vegetation can have this effect. The above-ground part of a plant simply dries up, snaps off and blows away with the next passing breeze. The “weed,” if you will, gets herded around by the wind and eventually forms a ball shape. Sometimes they get caught on fences, buildings, and hobos, but for the most part, they just keep on rolling wherever the wind takes them. So where do they all end up?
Is there a great tumbleweed deposit where the wind stops? You’d think if they just kept on blowing, they would end up on the coast. Well, I’ve seen pictures of beaches and I don’t see any tumbleweeds! I thought maybe they get caught amongst the trees in a forest somewhere, but that doesn’t make sense because there would be a great wall of tumbleweed on one side. I’ve never seen that either!
The sobering truth is, a tumbleweed’s journey is probably most often squelched by a rainstorm or by tumbling into a body of water and sinking to the bottom. I refuse to believe they all end that way, so there must be some mysteriously disappearing survivors out there somewhere. So take delight in the rare sight of these marvels, for sadly, they are seen by thousands and remembered by none.
By: S. Cole Garrett