William Wenthe, when referring to his move from bucolic Virginia to hardscrabble Lubbock, Texas, calls it geographic shock. The New Jersey native had made a real home in the area in and around Charlottesville during his pursuit of MA and PhD degrees, so had some adjustments to make when arriving in this splendid but isolated panhandle city.
As an adopted Texan with nearly 15 years in the state of my own, I can appreciate the transition, but also envy anyone who's still living in the gigantic and friendly borders.
But Lubbock is in the flyway for a wide variety of aviary life, and Wenthe - a bird lover since youth - finds that comforting. While we talk in the study of his pretty brick home, Wenthe runs down a long list of birds he sees in the area.
The wildlife in the house is pretty great, too. Zero, the aging and blind - but independent - cat keeps us company during the interview, twice bumping his nose into my intruding tripod, but getting a fair amount of attention in Wenthe's lap. And Eddie, the fiery Corgi makes a welcome appearance early on, alternately barking at and licking the visitor. Wenthe's wife rescued me from Eddie - or maybe Eddie from me - after it was clear I was never going to get to the interview otherwise.
Wenthe tells me about a visit from one of his New York pals a few years ago. As they drove through the barren landscapes north of the city, Wenthe was revelling in the rich tapestry of sky, earth, and clouds, and his pal said: "Boy, there's nothing out here."
It was then that Wenthe knew he'd crossed a threshold. The geographic shock was over. The landscape had taught Wenthe what to see and how to see it, and suddenly Lubbock and environs was home.