Texas Heartland: A Hill Country Year

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9780890960028: Texas Heartland: A Hill Country Year

The changing seasons make grandly visible not only nature’s recurring miracle of life, death, and rebirth which enfolds and nurtures us all but also the special character of a particular region observed over time, its secret beauties and sudden terrors, the coursing life of the place itself. Jim Bones’ magnificent photographic record of a year in the Texas Hill Country chronicles that sequence of natural details which mark the year’s passing in a part of Texas many Texans have come to revere as a kind of heartland. Complementing the photographs, John Graves’s essay on the region tells the history of the land and those who have lived on it, evoking both the special qualities of the Hill Country and the nature of man’s kinship with his soil.

Stretching to the north within the curve of the Balcones Escarpment, the Hill Country lies close to the center of the state, but something other than geography engenders the heartland aura. Its carved limestone cliffs, its scrubby eroded hills, its gushing springs and clear-flowing streams and its abundant wildlife hold strong appeal for Texans from more fertile but flatter land east and more spectacular but barren land west. Man’s hand upon this earth has not always been gentle, but change has come slowly to the Hill Country. It is rough terrain, not rich enough in soil or minerals to have tempted much exploitation, and this, together with its remarkable varied natural beauty, explains its special power over the heart and mind.

Finding unique patterns of the place in the seasonal changes of weather, water, and light, of the land, its plants and its animals, Bones’ photographs capture those fleeting phenomena which define the permanent meaning and value of the natural world and reveal the singular charm of this small and relatively undisturbed part of it. His work eloquently affirms a truth too often forgotten in an increasingly mechanized and urban world that in making peace with nature we make peace with ourselves.

Most of the photographs were taken while Bones was resident fellow at Paisano, a 254-acre ranch along Barton Creek that belonged to J. Frank Dobie and now serves as a place where Southwestern artists and writers can live and work. The Dobie-Paisano Fellowship is offered annually by the Texas Institute of Letters and the University of Texas at Austin.

A refugee from technical fields more concerned with exploiting than preserving nature.

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About the Author:

JOHN GRAVES is a noted Texas author whose writing has received national acclaim. His books include Goodbye to a River, The Water Hustlers, The Last Running, and Hard Scrabble, and he has contributed to the Atlantic Monthly, Holiday, the New Yorker, and other publications.JIM BONES studied photography under Russell W. Lee at the University of Texas at Austin. His work has appeared in numerous books and magazines, notable Audubon Magazine, in television documentaries, and in special exhibits. One of his books is Texas West of the Pecos, also published by Texas A&M University Press.

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Graves, John
Published by Texas A&M University Press (1975)
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