Of Tarantulas and Texas German

My children’s great-grandfather, Leonard Groeschel, was the first person I knew who was from Serbin. It was always interesting to hear him tell stories of his childhood about going to the store in town (I tried to imagine what it might have looked like), etc. Because of my conversations with him, I learned about “Texas German” (back to that in a moment).

Having spent the majority of my life outside of Texas, there’s a bit of wildlife that is still new to me, like this tarantula. Yesterday morning I drove down to the office for a few hours before we packed up the Expedition and headed north into Oklahoma, and I’m glad I did because I would have missed seeing it! It’s not the sort of thing that I ever saw back in Tennessee or North Carolina. I would have liked to have observed it for a while, but there were a few loose ends I needed to tie up inside, so I had to make do with this photograph.

Other animals I’ve seen for the first time in Texas include grackles, porcupines, skunks, and a mountain lion. Some of those are, of course, native to the east coast, but I never saw them there. Proximity to wildlife is, of course, no guarantee you’ll see it; despite living in and near the mountains for years I never saw a bear, though I always wanted to see one!

But back to Texas German… the folks from Germany who settled in Texas had to sometimes create words for things they didn’t have back in the old world. Things like skunks, for instance, for which they created the word “Stinkkatze” (“stink cat”).

I sure would have liked to have observed the first interaction between an unsuspecting settler and a skunk… at least from a safe distance!

You can read a little more about Texas German here:
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/mvx9wp/the-last-days-of-texas-german-253

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