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Pride of Place

A Contemporary Anthology of Texas Nature Writing

Edited by David Taylor

Publication Year: 2006

Since Roy Bedichek's influential Adventures with a Texas Naturalist, no book has attempted to explore the uniqueness of Texas nature, or reflected the changes in the human landscape that have accelerated since Bedichek's time. Pride of Place updates Bedichek's discussion by acknowledging the increased urbanization and the loss of wildspace in today's state. It joins other recent collections of regional nature writing while demonstrating what makes Texas uniquely diverse. These fourteen essays are held together by the story of Texas pride, the sense that from West Texas to the Coastal Plains, we and the landscape are important and worthy of pride, if not downright bravado. This book addresses all the major regions of Texas. Beginning with Roy Bedichek's essay "Still Water," it includes Carol Cullar and Barbara "Barney" Nelson on the Rio Grande region of West Texas, John Graves's evocative "Kindred Spirits" on Central Texas, Joe Nick Patoski's celebration of Hill Country springs, Pete Gunter on the Piney Woods, David Taylor on North Texas, Gary Clark and Gerald Thurmond on the Coastal Plains, Ray Gonzales and Marian Haddad on El Paso, Stephen Harrigan and Wyman Meinzer on West Texas, and Naomi Shihab Nye on urban San Antonio. This anthology will appeal not only to those interested in regional history, natural history, and the environmental issues Texans face, but also to all who say gladly, "I'm from Texas."

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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p. 8-8

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Acknowledgments

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pp. viii-ix

Last, my return to Denton has given me the chance to renew many old friendships and further close ones. None has been so dear to me over the years than that of my friend Scott Schram. His wisdom and caring matter immeasurably to me...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

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...

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1. Roy Bedichek, “Still Water” from Adventures with a Texas Naturalist

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pp. 15-28

I say amateur, since the professional ornithologist through overindulgence tends to become insensible to this pleasure, or, in the manner now fashionable, conceals emotional reactions as bad form or as indicating untrustworthy observation. I sometimes think that we have become dominated by a cult of unemotionalism...

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2. John Graves, “Kindred Spirits” from From a Limestone Ledge

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pp. 31-38

I have what started out as a canvas-covered wooden canoe, though with the years it has taken on some aluminum in the form of splinting along three or four fractured ribs, and this past spring I replaced its rotting cloth rind with resin-impregnated fiberglass. It is thus no longer the purely organic piece of handicraft that...

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3. Carol Cullar, “12 Variations on a Theme or Why I Live in West Texas”

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pp. 41-47

What if there were an essential homeplace stitched up in the fibers of our being, locked in our sinews and the molecules of our synapses? Is it only country kids who grew up on the back of a dusty tractor who feel this tie to the earth? Must we have run barefoot a thousand miles through the soil of our youth to pattern...

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4. Pete Gunter, “A Sense of One Place as the Focus of Another: The Making of a Conservationist”

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pp. 49-66

How wonderfully naïve I was, with an undifferentiated, fulsome love of nature and a political optimism straight out of Perry Mason and the Boy Scout Creed. I not only believed that Justice Would Triumph; I believed that Ordinary Citizens, by luck, pluck, and native deviousness, could band together and defeat...

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5. Barbara “Barney” Nelson, “That One-Eyed Hereford Muley” from The Wild and the Domestic

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pp. 69-89

Instead of drifting, they began to circle with more of a purpose. Is a cow dead down there on main street? I wondered if they had put to sleep the old cowboy, Nicasio Ramirez, who always sat on the corner in the sun. As the circle tightened, more and more buzzards appeared out of nowhere. First ten, then twenty, then...

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6. Joe Nick Patoski, “Springs”

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pp. 91-99

Of all the features that define the natural state of Texas, nothing speaks to me like springs do. As the source of water in its purest, most pristine form, springs are the basic building block of life. They present themselves in a manner as miraculous as birth itself, gestating in the womblike darkness of an aquifer deep underground...

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7. Gary Clark, “Memories of a Prairie Chicken Dance”

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pp. 101-108

Quite simply, dwindling coastal prairies meant dwindling prairie chickens. A century and a half ago, the prairies stretched inland 80 miles and covered at least seven million acres of the Texas coast from Louisiana to South Texas, sustaining over a million Attwater’s Prairie Chickens, grouse-like birds that are a...

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8. Marian Haddad, “Wildflower. Stone.”

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pp. 111-121

And so, whenever we’d drive up that road named Brown, up along the rim, I’d look to my left at the dry mountains and try to name the banks, the buildings, the streets that curved like snakes through our wide spaces. I’d look down and see the tall or wide buildings, their glass shining like crystal in our white...

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9. Wyman Meinzer, “Nature Writer”

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pp. 123-128

It would be interesting to find evidence of my first creative written endeavor, perhaps having its birth in my preteen years, and for certain with a leaning to the outdoor genre. I have retained, however, some short stories from somewhat later years, I think from the tender age of about 13. Even now, when I reread them...

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10. Ray Gonzales, “Tortas Locas” from The Underground Heart

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pp. 131-142

Trying to find traces of these maps, I visit the recently opened El Paso History Museum, a small building on the east side of town that used to be a steakhouse. Old habits are hard to break; I think, “Only in El Paso would a restaurant building become a history museum and still look like a restaurant from the...

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11. Naomi Shihab Nye, “Home Address” from Never in a Hurry

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pp. 145-149

The music man said this river was a lovely place to grow up. He said some days his head was still full of “the scent of pecan leaves piling up in the autumn, right here, right along these banks. Look! There are some of the same old trees.” He seemed reluctant to leave us, but his wife was getting edgy in the front seat alone. I would...

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12. Gerald Thurmond, “Faith’s Place” from Crossroads: A Southern Culture Annual

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pp. 151-170

Buck lay in bed, bloated and white, unconscious as far as I could tell, but tended and kept alive. This big man, hands twice the size of mine. He had once knocked down a cow with his bare fist when his anger got the best of him. Now those hands lay beside him unmoving, or trembled and shifted aimlessly. I remembered...

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13. David Taylor, “Paddling the Urban Sprawl of North Texas”

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pp. 173-186

At the time, I had lived in the southern Appalachians for almost ten years, first on the Tennessee side, then in South Carolina. I had grown accustomed to some color of seasons: winter, a definitive black and gray and dots of white in the high mountains; spring, full of a yellowish green and the fiery white of dogwoods...

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14. Stephen Harrigan, “What Texas Means to Me” from A Natural State

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pp. 189-206

Lying in a feather bed, in the guest room of a friend’s two-hundred-year-old house in western Massachusetts, I suffered a lapse of faith in Texas. I’m not sure what brought this crisis on. Perhaps it was simply the act of waking up, looking out the window at the syrup buckets hanging from the maple trunks, at the banked...

Index

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pp. 207-213


E-ISBN-13: 9781574415452
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574412086

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 14 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2006