If you’re of a certain age you can remember watching what I seem to remember was the Captain Kangaroo Show when they did a song about Dallas that went “BIG D! Little a, double l-a-s!” I can still remember that routine, even though I watched it on my parents’ fuzzy black and white TV long before Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon.
Today I’m living in the town I affectionately refer to as “little D,” Denton, Texas, the third point in the triangle that includes Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton.
I grew up in a small town–Winchester, Kentucky–and while I’ve lived in a number of large towns since then (Indianapolis, Riyadh, Houston) I’ve found Denton to be just about perfect for me. For one thing, it’s close enough to both Dallas and Fort Worth to get there in a timely manner when either business or pleasure calls. Being the media junkie that I am, there are plenty of online, on-air and on-paper news sources. And when I need to shop in person instead of online, the options in both cities are endless, as well as the dining and arts opportunities.
What is most appealing to me is that Denton is neither Dallas nor Fort Worth. One-upsmanship isn’t the game here, and neither is old money. Denton is a college town, but it isn’t defined by the two fine universities here. It’s not exclusively a bedroom community, either. It’s where two freeways (I-35 E and I-35 W) meet or diverge (depending on your perspective) as part of the Pan-American Highway, and that geographic detail almost defines the two major cities the freeways run through. Each is so different it’s hard to believe they’re in the same state, much less so close together.
In Denton we have wonderful arts opportunities, especially if you like opera and classical music. The town that gave the world Brave Combo and the One O’Clock Jazz Band also has a thriving live music scene. The historic town square, which in so many towns is a tourist trap of cutesy shops and “antique” malls, is frequented by the locals who genuinely enjoy the wine bar, ice cream parlor, coffee shop and restaurants interspersed between interesting businesses. A pleasant summer evening in downtown Denton often includes dining at an excellent restaurant, strolling around to Beth Marie’s for an ice cream, and wrapping up at Wine Squared with a glass of vino or beer and great conversation with whomever dropped by.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Guanajuato, Mexico, and find it similar to Denton. About the same size, the two towns are university towns, quiet, safe and friendly. There are lots of arts activities, and in the evenings, people gather in the square to chat and enjoy an evening with family and friends. Americans have forgotten how to really relax, but not in Denton.
On weekends my husband and I enjoy bicycling. From our house we can, in less than 15 minutes, be cycling on country roads among rolling hills and horse ranches that remind me of rural central Kentucky. We can ride for miles, stopping at country stores and restaurants for refreshment, and not be threatened by the many bicycle-haters in cars and trucks on the road. The people are friendly and helpful, and happy to see people out enjoying the countryside.
Friends and colleagues in Dallas and Fort Worth are constantly asking me if I mind driving into town for a meeting, lunch or social event. Not at all. I’d even gladly make the commute daily for the right job. When DART gets the Green Line to Carrolton open, that commute will get even easier. In the meantime, I’m always happy to come home to my quiet home in “little D.”
So I’ve titled this blog “The view from Little D” because while I’m up here away from the cacophony of the huge metropolitan area, I’m not out of touch. I love the vibrancy of the big urban area, but I’m glad I don’t have to live there 24/7. I’m just kicked back and relaxing, looking at the stars (which you can really see in Denton) and thinking this is the place to be.
Now you know that “Little D” is close, but oh so far away from “Big D.”
(c) Samra Jones Bufkins, 3/2/2009.