Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oklahoma - What I Don't Love About the Sooner State

I'm an Okie, but there are some things about the Sooner State that bug me. Here are a few....

1. The heat. Yes, I said I loved the seasons in Oklahoma, but summer is my least favorite. I simply do not like hot weather, and global warming (does anyone still believe it doesn't exist?) is not making it any easier. This summer is shaping up to be a nasty one - we have already had several days where the temperature topped 100 degrees. C'mon!

2. That Grapes of Wrath thing. Don't get me wrong, I really like John Steinbeck and have read every one of his books, no joke. I've always considered the Grapes of Wrath a true masterpiece, but I don't think ol' John did much homework on Oklahoma before he wrote the book. Oklahoma is often seen as a flat piece of land with few trees and lots of wind blowing the dust around, and I think that is due in great part to the book. Had Steinbeck visited Oklahoma, he would have found that the state is actually divided right down the middle from north to south by a row of forest called The Crosstimbers. This divide roughly goes along I-35. If you travel west of the Crosstimbers toward Texas, yes, you will eventually see fairly flat earth with lots of wind and windmills. This is the area where the Dust Bowl happened. But east of the Crosstimbers all the way to the Arkansas border is hilly, then mountainous terrain. This area is green farm and ranch land with lots of water - lakes, rivers, streams and farm ponds. A totally different state. Had Steinbeck visited Oklahoma, he would not have had the Joads leaving their dusty, worthless farm in Eastern Oklahoma. My ancestors settled in hilly Eastern Oklahoma, and had no concept of the Dust Bowl that was going on in Western Oklahoma. So please don't read the Grapes of Wrath and think that this is an accurate description of Oklahoma.

3. That we border Texas..... Just joking, Longhorns, we really kind of like you, but the faux hate between the two states is fun, particularly around October of every year. Well, and when the BCS decides who will play for the national championship (are you over that, yet?).

4. The politics. No, I don't particularly agree with everyone that gets thrusted into office in Oklahoma. I sure wish people would do a little research before marking that ballot.....

5. Tornadoes. I'm not crazy about them. I have ridden out two big ones and have luckily made it through with no loss of property, life or health. Many of my fellow Okies have not been as fortunate. In 1999 my entire city was almost wiped off the map with great loss of life, and the monster (which turned out to be the biggest in history) made a turn just before getting to my house and took out the golf course north of me before moving on and creating even more havoc elsewhere. I was huddled in the closet and didn't see the twister, but seeing the aftermath marked me for life. I did see the one in 2003, which took almost the same path through my town. I was standing in my tornado shelter (built after the 1999 monster) and watched a big, perfect funnel heading directly for my house. It was beautiful and terrifying all at once. It lifted before it reached my place, then sat back down and took out a good portion of the General Motors plant just northeast of me, as well as a portion of Midwest City. So no, I'm not fond of tornadoes. I do respect them, though.

What are your pet peeves about Oklahoma?

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