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Friday, June 17, 2005

Somebody Please Explain to Me ....

... if it's just my imagination or has Oklahoma's environment changed dramatically in the past 40 years? When I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma City, it seemed like the place was always flat, hot, windy and dry. Trees were a rarity, hills were unknown and you simply didn't see green grass after May. The Sooner State seemed like a landlocked Sahara of sorts.

Thus, I was ecstatic when I moved to Dallas in 1972 for graduate school and even more happy when a job in conservative journalism opened up in Washington, D.C. where I have lived since 1976. There are lots of trees, azaelias everywhere in the Spring, actual mountains within a half-day's drive west of the D.C. region and a whole ocean within a half-day drive the other direction.

But something seems to have changed in Oklahoma in recent years. For one thing, there are trees all over the place in the Oklahoma City area. Tulsa has always had lots of trees but not Okie City. You even see pine trees growing in places around the OKC suburbs.

My family pioneered growing pines in central Oklahoma way back in the 1960s when they planted a bunch of East Texas pines around the outer perimeter of our home. Despite drought, deadly winds and winter frost storms that bowed them to the ground, those pines are still there and are absolutely majestic against the Oklahoma sky.

Anyway, there are trees everywhere in OKC now and you can find green lawns in August. The wind still blows constantly and it can get hotter than Hades in the summer, but somehow it doesn't seem quite as severe. What happened? Has the climate changed and if so why? Oklahoma has an incredible amount of fresh water lake surface. Could increased evaporation of moisture into the atmosphere be involved?

Claudia, Virginia and I have been in OKC and Tulsa for the past five days visiting family and preparing for Marcus's wedding Saturday. I find myself actually wanting to "come home" because things are so different. Driving to Tulsa yesterday on the Turner Turnpike, for example, I was amazed at how beautiful the area just east of OKC and before Chandler has become. There are rolling hills, trees everywhere and lovely green grass waving in the breezes.

What gives? Am I just imagining this? Somebody out there knows the answer.