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Written by Texas Highways

I admit it: There's something magical about spotting an arrowhead on the ground, picking it up and holding it in my hand like an ancient talisman. I imagine the keen intelligence, the sculptural ability, and the skillful hands that deftly chipped the projectile point from a rough chunk of chert hundreds or thousands of years ago.Paleoindian experts once believed that Clovis culture - defined by the use of signature stone tools - was the first culture of the americas. Archeologists at the Gault Site have discovered evidence placing humans in Central Texas much earlier. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

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It may be February 1 where you are, but at the TH editorial office, we’re thinking April. We just put the March issue to bed, so to speak, and now we’re awash in wildflowers as we produce our April wildflower photo feature. Look for 16 pages of gorgeous wildflower images this year, along with a rundown of wildflower festivals and other events.

Working on the April issue always involves a flurry of prognostications: What kind of wildflower season will we have? Did the rains come at the right times? Where will readers find the best displays? Inevitably, we have to fall back on the nature of wildflowers themselves—they’re wild, meaning unpredictable and, to my way of thinking, even magical. You never know for sure what they will do, and that’s one reason we love them so. Their untamed beauty remains a constant in our increasingly homogenous, civilized world.

Daryl Whitworth, assistant director of the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau, stopped by the office a couple of days ago and gave us the bureau's wildflower forecast for the Hill Country. “We're predicting a bumper crop,” he said. “A lot of seeds lay dormant last year because of the drought, and the rains that came in late September and early October, as well as the recent rains, came just at the right times.”

I conducted my own wildflower survey a couple of weeks ago, on a trip from Austin to my mother’s home near Edna. I always try to make a trek south around Groundhog Day, since it seems like a good time for predicting what the wildflowers season holds. Sometimes I even spot a precocious Indian paintbrush or bluebonnet. No such luck this year, though I did see more green than I expected along the roadsides between Austin and Gonzales. As I drove on Texas 111 from Yoakum to Edna, it became drier and looked less promising. However, since my visit, that area has had a little rain, so again, you never know. Personally, I love it that way.

It’s the last day of January, and though it’s warm in Austin right now, the National Weather Service says a cold front will roll in tonight, followed by really cold temperatures later this week. Instead of stocking up on hot chocolate, though, I’m planning my annual trip to southeast Texas this weekend to scout out the first wildflowers of the season. My mother, who lives near Edna, has already spotted coreopsis along the roadside, and my sister tells me that bluets are out, too. Yes, all those early bloomers will probably freeze their petals off this week, but I can’t resist looking for them. I make a trip home each year around this time with that in mind—I think of it as a Texas twist on Groundhog Day. And some years I’m rewarded by seeing a splash of phlox or even an overachieving Indian paintbrush.

Of course, the fact that the magazine staff is working on the April issue (which always has pages and pages of wildflower photos) during January and February also colors my enthusiasm. There’s nothing like seeing all those gorgeous images to put you in the mood for the real thing. And thankfully, in Texas, it’s almost wildflower season, no matter what the National Weather Service has to say.

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So fortunate to personally experience and thoroughly enjoy the Sunday final round of the PGA Tour's Crowne Plaza Invitatational at Colonial in Fort Worth. Quite a thrill. Winner Zach Johnson (with more than a passing resemblance to Hollywood star Joaquin Phoenix, and also happens to be a native Iowan like myself), shot a tournament record 21 under par 259! Among his 6 other tour titles are the 2007 Masters in Augusta and San Antonio's Valero Texas Open in 2008 and 2009. The historic Colonial Country Club and golf course, surrounding FW neighborhoods, and TCU campus were perfectly gorgeous, while the Colonial staff's wonderfully gracious hospitality is a pleasure to behold. And, the highly competitive field of top players brought out the best in each other during the final 18 holes. Hey, these guys are really good! Honestly, I'm not even a golfer (ok, maybe a little driving range/pitch and putt activity), but this is an event you absolutely must consider. It's truly a Texas sports classic. You're able to get incredibly close to the action, and the gallery of fans is most entertaining, as well. Be sure to view the statue of legendary Texan Ben Hogan, one of the game's greatest, and the room full of impressive Hogan career memorabilia here, including some of his major (British Open, Masters, US Open, PGA Championship) tournament trophies. Colonial, founded in 1936, was Mr. Hogan's home course. See www.colonialfw.com, www.crowneplazainvitational.com, or www.pgatour.com.

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Lots to enjoy in the Lamar County seat of Paris. This northeast Texas community is proud of its Eiffel Tower replica at the Love Civic Center, the historical museum in Heritage Park, the Sam Bell Maxey State Historic Site, the Plaza Theatre, the Paris Municipal Band's summer concert series at the Grecian Peristyle in Bywaters Park, Culbertson Fountain, the 1914 Santa Fe/Frisco Union Station Railroad Depot, the tree-lined Trail de Paris, July 17th's annual Tour de Paris bicycle event, and the city's new Trolley de Paris (see photo), among many other attractions. For additional information on this Red River Valley destination, call 800/727-4789; www.paristexas.com.

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The border is beautiful, indeed. Miss Texas, Kelsey Elizabeth Moore, and Miss New Mexico, Rosanne Aguilar, both students at the University of Texas at El Paso, will be contestants for the Miss USA title this Sunday May 16 in Las Vegas at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. Moore is a UTEP sophomore volleyball team member from El Paso majoring in general studies. Aguilar, from Las Cruces, is a UTEP senior majoring in biology. Congratulations to both of these young ladies and good luck to them in this weekend's competition. The winner of Sunday's event represents the U.S. in the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant.

Thrilled to finally see and hear Michael Ramos' band Charanga Cakewalk at Austin City Hall's outdoor Live from the Plaza series over the lunch hour today. Their music is a seductive, original recipe of Cuba, Colombia, and TexMex, with some Steve Jordan-style accordion and Augustus Pablo-style melodica by Ramos swirled into the mix. Guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards combined with congas, other assorted percussive elements, and Ramos' lead on several instruments merged cumbia, samba, son, cha cha cha, norteno, and merengue, and got the crowd happily swaying on a warm humid day downtown very near Lady Bird/Town Lake. Fittingly, for the upcoming Mother's Day weekend, Ramos dedicated the last songs of the set to both his wife and mom, including a touching original called "Gloria."

Photo by Greg QuinnPhoto by Greg Quinn

Enjoyed the wonderful spring weather by taking in #1 Texas vs. Oklahoma State Big 12 baseball at UT's impressive UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin and a Southland Conference baseball game between Texas State and Northwestern State on campus in San Marcos at the Bobcats' very nice new stadium complex. The biggest hit may have been discovering Herbert's Taco Hut on Riverside Drive in San Marcos. Primo Tex Mex! Herbert's Special of 1 crispy taco, 1 bean and cheese chalupa, and 1 enchilada (beef, cheese, or chicken), along with rice, beans, guacamole, and tortillas is a culinary classic. Superb melon agua fresca. Terrific tres leches cake (see Lois M. Rodriguez' TH Taste feature on pastel de tres leches in the new May issue of Texas Highways). And check out Herbert's house special strawberry margarita (pictured at left).

cinnamonrollsciscoHead for Cisco (between Abilene and Fort Worth) and the Cisco College campus later this month, April 23-25, for the Cisco Folklife Festival. Activities include a Lions Club barbecue dinner, the Cisco College fine arts department's spring concert, a golf scramble at the Cisco Country Club, sidewalk art, pioneer demonstrations, live music, arts & crafts, a tractor pull, car show, and lots of great food, including the festival's famous cinnamon rolls (at right). For more information, call the chamber of commerce at 254/442-2537; www.ciscotx.com.

I'm hardly a wine connoisseur, during blind tastings in the past, I've invariably preferred the least expensive wines, but when friends suggested we meet Sunday afternoon for drinks at Crù, a wine bar in Austin's Domain shopping center, I was up for the experience. I figured at the very least it would offer a quiet place to talk. I've grown tired of trying to communicate, much less connect, in noisy restaurants and clubs.

It's becoming a familiar scenario: A friend comes in from out of town, and I discover a new Austin restaurant. Usually, it's just a matter of my wanting to try a place I'd heard about and good timing. Recently, though, when my friend Candy was here for a convention, she came armed with her own recommendation. Of course, this particular friend knows Austin better than I do (although she lives in Victoria now), so it didn't surprise me. What's more, she's a foodie, so I figured her choice would be a good bet.

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