Change comes to the Rio Grande Valley every year at the Ides of March. Here in the Valley Winter Texans are preparing to leave soon after March 15. Leaving to go north, reconnecting with their northern families.
• On the Ides of March 44 BC, the Roman Senate assassinated Julius Caesar.
• In 1599 William Shakespeare brought those five words into English with a play.
• In the 21st century, March 15 has gained a reputation as a time of Change.
• Change takes place yearly around this date, in the Rio Grande Valley.
Read more: Beware the Ides of March
It was a warm February day in Bentsen State Park; we had stopped for a rest and a drink of water at the Mexican Marker and realized we had a problem. The Marker is about halfway around our planned bike ride. At the Marker, our friends admitted they had not ridden a bike in years.
Meeting Old Friends is Part of The Joy of Camping.
Case and Geraldine were good friends from twenty years ago. Our jobs had taken us to different parts of Canada, but we had maintained contact on Facebook.
They were crossing the southern USA in their RV. They had come to the Rio Grande Valley to see us.
Read more: We Are Not As Fit As We Were
Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, with its parades, green beer, and Irish humor, is here again. Suddenly many of us here in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, and around the world find real or imagined Irish connections, a time to associate with others who claim Irish links celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day for the fun of it.
The Tea Room Magic Trick
Charles and Paddy go into the tearoom for refreshments. While ordering, the Englishman, Charles, waited for the baker to turn his back. He then sneaked three buns, putting them quickly into his pocket before sitting at their table.
At their table, Charles turned to Paddy and proudly said, “Did you see that? It took talent and nerve to take those buns without the baker seeing me.”
The Irishman is horrified, “Charles," he says, "that’s shoplifting. Let me show you how to do it honestly and still end up with three free buns.”
Read more: Saint Patrick’s Day For the Fun of It
Springtime, the winter months in the warmth of the Rio Grande Valley, is over. Our feathered companions for the winter, the Boat Tailed Grackles, and Red Wing Blackbirds gather in flocks each evening on the powerlines at every street junction. It's that time of year again. The birds are getting ready, and we, as Winter Texans, must start planning our return drive to our northern homes.
Read more: A Burst Trailer Tire on the Drive Home
The music started, the Square Dance had begun at an RV park hall in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Ron, the dance caller, directed the steps of the dancers; "Bow to your partner and your corner too; circle left.” My corner lady, a stranger to me, crashed into me.
Ron called out, "No, Suzanna, your other left."
The Road Works. It was raining, we were forced off the highway because I was in the wrong lane due to road works. Learning to drive in England has its problems in North America. I then took a Texas “U” turn, not the planned left turn, ending up back on the highway going the wrong way.
“One more try,” I said to Linda as I turned off the highway and headed south. We arrived at the dance hall only ten minutes late.
Square Dances are Social Events, a time to meet friends and strangers. But they weren’t all strangers?
The young lady, Susanna, who had crashed into me, was vaguely familiar. I knew her, but from where? Who was she? Why did I know her? Was Linda watching? My memory is getting worse.
Read more: A Stranger on the Dance Floor
It was 9:30 pm, on a dark and rainy night, when a new water fountain appeared in the RV Resort west of Mission in the Rio Grande Valley. Greg, the campground work camper responsible for guiding people to their site and getting them hooked up, was tired but dry inside the cover of his golf cart. It had been a long evening.
Help Backing in
After guiding the late arrivals to their campsite, Greg asked, “Do you need any help backing in?”
Motorhome Mal, the weary, blurry-eyed driver of the 5th Wheel, recognized Greg's reluctance to step out into the rain. “No, it's OK; my wife Anne is good at backing me into difficult places.”
Anne’s eyes rolled to the back of her head at the thought of going out in the rain. But she knew Mal trusted her backup instructions over these campground golfcart jockeys.
Read more: A New Water Fountain in The RV Resort
In January, Linda and I were asked if we would like the opportunity to take a fun early morning stroll, bird watching in the Bentsen State Park with an experienced team of bird watchers known as twitchers.
So, on Saturday morning, I was up early to shave, shower, make the coffee and take the dogs for a long walk before we met this group of twitchers. But first, Linda had to do her hair.
Read more: The Twitcher
It was Tuesday when I walked into the Lapidary workshop at an RV Resort in the Rio Grande Valley; I was early for my interview with the Rockhound club president.
The workshop walls were lined with machines. Machines for cutting and polishing rocks and gemstones. It is here that the magic art of turning rocks and gemstones into small decorative pieces of artwork takes place.
A man covered in dust, looking like an apparition from the Flintstones, peered at me out of dust-covered glasses; his face did not have wrinkles; it had fault lines. The name Jake was carved on his name badge.
“Can I help you?” mumbled Jake.
"Yes," I replied, “My name is Malcolm; I am from the Winter Texan Times; I have an appointment with the President of the RGV Lapidary Club. Can you tell me where I can find her?”
“Malcolm,” he repeated to himself as if memorizing a slice of marble, as he turned and walked away.
Read more: The Rockhounds of the Rio Grande Valley
It was 3:50 p.m. We were 24 hours late, as Justin and Debbie, Linda, and I, the last two vehicles of the "Baja Winter RV Caravan," stopped at the campground gate in Los Barriles, Baja, Mexico. Justin, and his wife Debbie, the Caravan Tail Gunners, had stayed with us while we had our broken trailer springs repaired in a desert workshop outside of La Paz.
At the campground gate, Kathie from our RV Caravan group was waiting.
"Supper is ready; follow me. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, and the caravan wants to hear about your adventure.”
After supper, I began the story…
We located a mechanic. He explained – “It’s the Baja roads; they keep me in business.”
Read more: It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere
It was just after lunch,
the senior’s game had begun.
Across the valley,
seniors play it for fun.
There were chairs in the outfield,
and a chair on each base.
For the seniors to sit on,
just in case.
Four teams were selected,
no stacking, just fun.
Because this is a game,
where we don’t have to run.
Let’s Play Ball
It was the top of the 7th with two men on base. Mike was up. He talked to his bean bags and performed a dance. He swung. “Strike one,” called the Umpire. The pressure was on.
Mike swung again, “a Home Run.” Suddenly there was pandemonium, everyone standing and talking. I thought, “This is not like cricket.”
Through the chaos, Mike could be seen stealthily touching the chair on each base. It was a sacred moment as he maneuvered through the crowd.
There was hand slapping and the smile of victory to be enjoyed.
Then two women from his team grabbed Mike as he reached third base. They carried him home.
Life of a Winter Texan
“Dad,” my son asked on the phone that evening. “How do you mean you played in a baseball game with a bean bag? A man your age should not be running around a baseball diamond.”
Kids! I tried to explain, "Seniors in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) know how to have fun after age 55. To start with, they don't call these campgrounds anymore; now, they are called RV Resorts, 50% of the trailers here don’t have wheels, they are mini-homes, and everyone has a golf cart, not for golf, but just to reach the next activity on time.”
These RV Resorts are like holiday summer camps for teenagers, with three significant differences:
1) You must be 55 or older,
2) Saturday night dances are unsupervised.
3) Alcohol is approved of.
Teams Play for Fun
You could see the joy on their faces. These teams play for fun, encouraging and abusing each other is part of the game.
Then there was the weekly BYOB street party celebrating the end of every game - “The 10th innings.” Before the party starts, an organizational priority must be resolved, who will host next week’s 10th innings, then It's Party Time.
Over 100,000 people return to the RGV every winter. The locals call us Winter Texans, and it’s the group activities such as seniors' baseball that help bring them back.
Meet Malcolm Callister, Winter Texan Times, new humorist. We know laughter and humor can be found around every corner – and he wants to share your stories. If you have any funny events or anecdotes to share email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.