Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Of Wind and Tumbleweeds

By Tiffany Amber Stockton

This post is going to be short, because I want to ask for YOUR input. Get ready to share!

If you have ever watched an old western movie or even a TV show set in the Old West, you are quite familiar with a nuisance known as the tumbleweed. Even I remarked about seeing them when I first moved to Colorado, saying, "I am in the West." :)

For the most part, tumbleweeds are shown in deserted or ghost towns, empty and dusty streets, or out on the prairie where no building impede their path. But, in reality, tumbleweeds are found everywhere people are, if the conditions are right.

Tumbleweed is a phrase used to describe various varieties of bushes that break off when very dry, and roll with the wind.

These thick matted bushes sometimes stick to each other to resemble a giant Tumbleweed, and single Tumbleweeds six or eight feet in diameter, are not uncommon in the Southwest at times. They have been seen in many Western movies, but far from being "quaint" they can be both a nuisance and a fire hazard.  Sage brush creates one of the more common kinds of tumbleweed.

Where I live in Colorado, when the wind blows across town, tumbleweeds inevitably follow. And it's amazing how those buggers can get stuck under your car, then dragged for miles. People avoid them like they do an animal or debris in the road. One of the most ironic facts is knowing the actual tumbleweed is a plant brought over from Russia.

Scientific descriptions with good photos!

History and Description: Nice site and has bibliographical links.

Russian Thistle: Desert USA—the Ultimate Desert Resource has a very good history article, and the photo of blossoms to the right is theirs. It's beautiful. It's also larger than life. The blossoms are teensy, and when seen through a microscope, are nearly transparent at one point.

So...what trademarks or icons of the "west" come to mind when you think of a western setting? When you read a western story or novel, or when you watch a movie or TV show, what items are required in order for the western setting to be believable to you?

Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she is an award-winning author and speaker who helps people live better by partnering with Nerium International. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have one girl and one boy, and an Aussie/retriever mix named Roxie. She has sold fourteen books so far and is represented by Sandra Bishop of MacGregor Literary Agency. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Great post! I love the question and it really got my wheels turning. In my opinion, a western always needs a hitching post, a saloon, and a general store. Wagons pulled by horses, cowboys, and plenty of dusty roads. At the Old West home places, they need wells with buckets, big barns and vegetable gardens.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  2. I live in CA and when our boys were young I made a Bingo game with Western "things". We used the game when we traveled to keep the boys looking outside and interested in the trip. We had tumbleweeds, oil rigs (Long Beach), cows, horses and big rigs (3 trailers). It was great fun. Anyway, I would need to see a cowboy to know it was the real West. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com