Pride of Place: A Contemporary Anthology of Texas Nature Writing

Pride of Place: A Contemporary Anthology of Texas Nature Writing

Pride of Place: A Contemporary Anthology of Texas Nature Writing

Pride of Place: A Contemporary Anthology of Texas Nature Writing

Synopsis

Fourteen writers, including Roy Bedichek, John Graves, Stephen Harrigan, Wyman Meinzer, and Naomi Shihab Nye explore the uniqueness of Texas nature and address all the major regions of the state.

Excerpt

I’ve long thought about this project—an anthology of Texas nature writing. As a child I grew up below the Lake Lewisville dam and spent lots of hours wandering around in the flood plains of the Elm Fork. Lewisville was then a rural town—the downtown feed mill still a vital part of the community and town economics, and the same red, white, and blue bunting used for all town holidays from the Fourth of July rodeo to the homecoming parade.

Family vacations included trips to Sam Rayburn Lake, Goose Island, the Big Thicket, Palo Duro Canyon, and once to El Paso. As a child I thought the distance between these destinations as far as to another planet, since only a ranch here and there or fields of cotton, corn, or sorghum dotted the forested and desert spaces between towns. As anyone who has lived in Texas for any time will tell you, most of it’s changed. Fewer spaces between towns, and the dots have become convenience stores, which soon add a fast food place and then mature into strip malls. Sure, if you drive out west far enough or spend enough time looking for back roads, you’ll get a sense of what it was, but what was the rule is now the exception.

What’s stirred me to bring this writing together isn’t nostalgia or anti-development sentiments, though I hold both of those. Instead, it is that wonder I’d slip into as a child about the vast spaces of Texas landscapes as we traveled. the family vehicle was a 1967 Chevrolet pickup; after 100 miles or so, Mom and Dad would tire of listening to the three kids and banish us to the bed of the truck. My use of the word “bed” is literal, as dad had placed a mattress in the back with a camper top shielding us from the elements, excepting heat of course. Much of the time we vied for a breeze, placing our faces near the two slatted windows; I being the youngest waited on the largesse of my two older siblings to offer access to a window—that and if I got sick or whined too much they knew there’d be hell to pay when Dad stopped the truck. But in those times when we’d pass a few hundred miles at a time without too much discomfort, I could slip into a reverie about what was . . .

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