Paul Andersen: Texas plates make me want to ‘Forget the Alamo!’
An enormous Jeep — the biggest I’ve ever seen — rumbled toward me emanating a heavy carbon footprint from twin exhaust pipes. I could feel the percussion of every cylinder as the engine idled within close range.
I was getting out of my compact VW as this monster, raised up on coil springs like a pouncing pachyderm, tried to wedge into the next parking spot. The driver, a blonde-haired woman seated beside a huge, shaggy dog, sat at shoulder height to me and edged ever closer to my shrimpy little car.
I flattened myself against my Jetta-diesel-fuel-efficient import and sucked in my stomach to make room. To my relief, she had a second thought, threw her contraption into reverse, backed off with a roar, and chose the wider spaces.
As she pulled away, I noticed Texas plates with the personalized handle WOLF WGN. And it was then I saw the future of the Roaring Fork Valley as explained by Arnold Toynbee, a British historian of great renown.
In his ponderous book, “A Study of History,” Toynbee describes historic human migrations pushing against deflection points throughout history. Roman military boundaries, for example, deflected the invading northern hordes into flanking movements that dictated where and how people lived across Europe.
Civilizations ebb and flow with divergent peoples who influence the places they settle and who are, in turn, influenced by the cultures they invade. Toynbee calls them “human avalanches.” Like protozoa, cultural boundaries morph into shapes dictated by internal and external pressures while cultural influences are transferred through osmosis into porous membranes to affect the host.
The thinning membrane of the Roaring Fork Valley is being permeated by a sudden wave of COVID-19-fleeing populations that are changing our local demographics. You can note this avalanche on license plates and hear it in the drawling of Texas immigrants fleeing the heat and viral spread currently plaguing the Lone Star State as they seek mountain vistas and cool, dry air.
It has been said that were Colorado stretched out flat, it would be three times the size of Texas. That’s a good thing given the spike in real estate demand emanating from south of our border. How this new population influences Colorado and the Roaring Fork Valley is, according to Toynbee, predictable.
Texans are, by nature and nurture, conservatives, and many will vote for Trump in November. Conservative Texas influence is considerable, not only in politics, but in education, because Texas is where national standards for textbooks are formed.
Add a conservative influx to Colorado and the political color of the state will shift closer to a reddish purple and away from a bluish tint. Not that all Texas immigrants will take up permanent residence in the Centennial State, but their children will as they come to appreciate the benefits of mountain living compared to Houston humidity and panhandle parching.
Locally, Texas influence will alter precepts about energy consumption and vehicle efficiency as more WOLF WGN drivers flaunt fuel standards and ramp up the fleet. Size matters in Texas — big time — especially with lumbering, luxury SUVs.
Contrarily, one may assume that an equally influential influx of California immigrants may offset the conservative views of Texas Baptists with the liberal views of Bay area hippies and Silicon Valley elites. As a result, our valley is a melting pot simmering over with land speculation, traffic jams, climate change, trail-crowding and competing dialects.
There will be more “y’all”ers drawling restaurant orders for steak and potatoes combating an emergent “bro-ification” of hipsters quaffing double soy lattes while specifying dosages on CBD products.
Toynbee would have viewed the Texas migration with interest, relegating the Southern invasion to a nuanced cultural shift of miner import. But then Toynbee never had a WOLF WGN bearing down threateningly upon his tiny Austin Healy.
Things go both ways, so perhaps the invasive species busily snatching up local real estate will also shop AT gear and ask why uphill skis aren’t motorized like e-bikes.
Uh-oh! I just saw an SUV with Texas plates cruising “for sale” signs near my home up the Pan. Time to put up the barricades and “Forget the Alamo!”
Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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