Hill Country October Mist
The first cold weather of the fall came in last night. It’s a misty, breezy 38 degree day now and the view over the valley reminds me of the Smoky Mountains in miniature.
I love October and the changes it brings but October is also the month I miss where I’ve been. The mountains around Asheville were beautiful in mid-October. I miss my annual drive down a favorite stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I would get away from the university on an October afternoon and cruise with the windows down, the sunroof open, and views of valleys and mountains looking like God had spilled his breakfast bowl of Trix.
But those turning leaves were the preamble to shoveling snow out of my uphill driveway. I don’t miss a dawn snow-shoveling job and I don’t miss walking up the hill carrying my groceries when our road iced over. I had just enough of those days every winter to need an occasional injection of Gary P. Nunn.
I still remember the shock the first time I ordered a barbeque sandwich in North Carolina. I grew to like that pork barbeque, but it can’t replace Texas smoked brisket. The Whataburger bags in the Gary P. Nunn video remind me that I had to learn to order my hamburger “deluxe” if I wanted lettuce and tomato—I thought of lettuce and tomato as regular issue, not extra. A cheeseburger dressed with chili and slaw was another North Carolina shock, but it’s pretty good if you see it coming.
October gives me a little shot of regret, some fond memories, and a sense of contentment. I may miss things about where I’ve been but I’m happy they are where I was, not where I am. A day or two of Texas Hill Country cold reminds me that I‘m glad it will warm back up quickly.
But I have to be careful listening to James Taylor in October.
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I’m still trying to get my mind around chili and slaw on a cheeseburger. I do remember having slaw on a sandwich once. It was added to a grilled pimento cheese on homemade seven-grain bread, and it was delicious. I found it in Schulenberg, at a little bakery/café there.
Now I’m pondering the fact that I’ve never had a Whataburger. Not once. It raining and it’s cold, and I have to go out shortly to see if yesterday’s rain ruined my varnish, so this might be the day to do it. I could listen to Gary P. while I’m waiting in line.
Nostalgia’s a wonderful feeling. It often leads to my saying, “I’m glad I did it, but I don’t want to do it again.”
I never would have thought of putting slaw and chili on a cheeseburger but discovered it works very well. I was introduced to it at Duke Medical Center when I was working late one night on my internship. The main cafeteria lines were closed but staff could grab something already prepared from a selection of wrapped sandwiches, and that was all they had left. I tried it, liked it, and got it on purpose after that. You see slaw in food more frequently in that part of the country than around here. As you found at the bakery in Schulenberg, it’s a good addition to many sandwiches. Add the cooling effect of the slaw to the spice of the chili and you’ve got a very nice combination.
I bet it’s harder to find that cheeseburger in the Duke cafeteria these days. The diet police are a lot more active now than they were back in the ’70s.
Although I grew up in Houston I never had a Whataburger in my childhood. I had the first one I remember when I was in grad school in Lubbock in the early ’70s. They seemed to be more of an institution in that part of the state than they were in Houston, at least at that time. If I were to speculate, I’d guess they thought expanding from their home base in Corpus Christi to areas with less competition than existed in Houston made good corporate sense.