Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Official State … whatever

What’s your state known for?

All of the states in the United States have some special things that are taken as emblems of a particular state. For example, all states have an Official State Bird and an Official State Flower. Most states also have an Official State Tree and an Official State Song, and many have an Official State Animal (or Mammal). Other common categories are Official State Mineral and Official State Fish.

In New Mexico, the Official State Bird is the roadrunner, and the Official State Flower is the yucca blossom. Both of those are very well suited to represent the state. Other states also have good flowers and birds. Our neighbor, Arizona, has the very apt combination of the saguaro cactus flower and the cactus wren, two species that rely on each other for survival. The most popular Official State Bird is the mockingbird, the Official State Bird of Texas, Arkansas, and a whole lot of other Southern states. Oklahoma has an especially attractive Official State Bird, the scissortail flycatcher. On the other hand, Rhode Island has chosen an Official State Bird that I’m not sure should qualify – an Official State Bird should be wildlife rather than a domestic animal, a species rather than a subspecies or breed, and should encompass both genders. Much as I enjoy the high quality of egg it produces, the Rhode Island Red hen would be better named as Official State Poultry or Official State Domestic Animal. Somehow, I find it hard to imagine bird lovers with binoculars going to Rhode Island barnyards in search of a “find.”

Many states have the sunflower as Official State Flower, including Oklahoma and Kansas, where a traveler passing through in mid to late summer will see acres and acres of the sunny yellow blossoms. Perhaps the most appropriate Official State Flower is Colorado’s columbine. These five-petal flowers feature a graceful spur growing backward from the back of each petal, holding a drop of nectar to be harvested by the hummingbirds that pollinate the plant. They grow only at higher altitudes, and the color of the petals shades from the blue-violet of the high-altitude sky to the white of the snow that covers the high country for much of the year and that in the higher elevations never goes completely away.

Back in New Mexico, we have the Official State Mammal, the black bear; the Official State Fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout; the Official State Tree, the piñon; the Official State Mineral, turquoise; and the Official State Song, “Oh, Fair New Mexico,” written by a mariachi singer who also happened to be the lieutenant governor at the time.

We also have a few oddballs. There is the Official State Aircraft, the hot-air balloon; the Official State Necktie, the bolo tie; the Official State Vegetable, the pinto bean; and the Official State Cookie, the bizcochito. But the one that most distinguishes New Mexico from all of the other states is that New Mexico has an Official State Question: “Red or green?” In New Mexican restaurants, diners typically are given a choice about what kind of chile they want on their food – the red chile that is what the rest of the world thinks of as chile, or the green chile that is picked before it turns red and has a more fruity, fresh flavor. As far as I know, no other state has an Official State Question. For that matter, I’m guessing most states don’t have an Official State Necktie or an Official State Aircraft.

On the other hand, I do know that other states have their own special Official State whatevers. For example, I know that Maine has an Official State Cat – the Maine Coon Cat. What I would like to know is what the Official State things are in other states. So I’m asking my six or so loyal readers … what are some of the more interesting Official State thingummies that you know about?

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Blogger bonnie said...

Well, turns out there's an interesting debate in Hawaii over the incredibly State Fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua'a (not sure whether it's Official State Fish or Unofficial State Fish, it was official when I was a kid, I think, but apparently things change).

Biggest objection is that the humuetc. is not unique to Hawaii, and there are plenty that are, but everybody just likes saying the name so much...

Fri Jan 25, 10:02:00 AM MST  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Not to mention that's a hard-to-pronounce fish, too.

New Mexico's Official State Fish used to be the rainbow trout, but that was a non-native fish, and it's out-competing the native fish, such as the Rio Grande cutthroat.

Fri Jan 25, 07:11:00 PM MST  
Blogger bonnie said...

Now there's a very very excellent reason to change official state fishes. Very interesting that it got to be the state fish despite that - but I guess the rainbow trout is such a popular fishing fish that it would be easy to overlook that in the light of the money that fisherfolk spending chasing after it.

Now as far as the Hawaii state fish - if you find humuhumunukunukuapua'a hard to say, you can always just call it a Rectangular or Picasso Triggerfish.

Fri Jan 25, 09:42:00 PM MST  
Blogger PinkPanther said...

When I was a student, I used to collect stamps from other foreign countires. Most of them were sent from my uncles in L.A. San. Fransico or Australia, thus I known some of their official state animals. I like the Kola Bear the most. ^_^

Well, here in my little city - Macau SAR of PRC; the Grandprix is the oficial FIA that known for everybody.

Sun Jan 27, 07:45:00 PM MST  
Blogger EVK4 said...

California apparently not only has an official state dance but an official state folk dance. There is a state grass that *doesn't* grow in Humboldt, a state artifact, two official ghost towns (from some silver rush and the gold rush), a state soil and a state tartan.

All of this pales in comparison to our state Tall Ship, The Californian.

Wed Jan 30, 05:26:00 PM MST  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Been under the weather lately ... nearly missed Visitor #30K -- somebody in India on the usual search.

Tue Feb 05, 06:14:00 PM MST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so, as a native south dakotan, it shocking to know that this state's bird is not native. its the ring neck pheasant. its like having the dandelion as the state flower.
oh my

Fri Feb 08, 09:56:00 PM MST  
Blogger Iris Blue said...

Oh My! Florida sure has a lot of state things.
The State Play:Cross and Sword
The State Soil:Myakka Fine Sand
The State Gem:Moonstone (in honor or the space program)
The State Stone:Agatized Coral
The State Marine Mammal:Manatee
The State Saltwater Mammal:Porpoise
The State Shell:Horse Conch

These are in addition to the usual state things. We do have a state juice.

Hope you are feeling better. You've been MIA for awhile.

Tue Feb 12, 06:27:00 PM MST  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Look for a new post soon ... I'm almost feeling human again. Let me get more of that there state beverage.

Thu Feb 14, 07:04:00 PM MST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Received the package.
It was most excellent.
Thanks, matey.
San Diego

Wed Feb 20, 01:12:00 PM MST  

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