So I drove Emma to Jenifer's house last night. She complained a bit in
the morning (Emma that is) when I turned the key, but later in the day,
refused to start at all. The battery, which I knew was weak, could have
been the culprit. I replaced it, but still no luck. No blown fuses, all
the wires were connected the right way, I hope the weak battery didn't
fry the starter. I'll let everyone know what's happening later in the
week on that, but it looks like Emma won't be making the trip to
Mendocino for Christmans weekend. But the F-1 will.... On with the
Andy's trip part 4 (Ya even notice that this thing needs a name or
something. Any suggestions?)
Texas continued to surprise me. For those of you who have never been,
Texas hill country is one of the most densely foliated pieces of earth
anywhere. I lived in Humboldt County on California's fabled North Coast
for three years. I know all about dense foliage! Texas hill country was
rife with pecan, walnut, elm, poplar and other deciduous trees, many
still wearing fall colors, glowing bright yellow/orange against the
powder blue Texas sky. Others were leafless, providing stark contrast to
the pale white of overhead cumulus. Texas was not the dry, desolate and
desperate landscape of dirt, followed by more dirt, yielding to still
more dirt when the first allotment of dirt ran out.
In Texas, people also respect their heritage. Heritage is something too
easily forgotten when you live in California. My mom is from Brooklyn
and I spent my life learning about heritage, but in California, everyone
seems to be from somewhere else. Heritage gets less mindshare than
fitting in and discussing which gym you belong to. When you're from
Texas, you know your past. About 20 miles west of Austin is a cemetery.
You're thinking it's morbid, maybe a little weird to stop at a cemetery,
but how people care for their departed says a great deal about the people
themselves. To remember where you came from is to have a strong sense of
where you're going.
The little cemetery in the middle of nowhere was neatly kept, not a blade
of grass out of place and fresh flowers and wreaths adorned each
headstone. Giant trees overhung the area, but few leaves were left to
clutter the grounds. Reading a few headstones, and seeing no newly
interred gravesites, it was clear that nobody had been buried there since
the fifties. In Texas, people have strong ties to their ancestors. They
know who they are.
I had the F-1 and my 50 mm lens and orange filter with Agfapan 25 black
and white print film. I tried looking for some texture and rhythm of the
stones with trees as the backdrop. I experimented with varying depths of
field and low angles to lend perspective. One shot I think will come out
well is a grave surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. No more than four
feet high, the fence was the only unkempt looking artifact on the
grounds. A little morbid? Perhaps, but I got some good shots.
I don't usually spend much time thinking about Lyndon Johnson. He did
lots for civil rights, got us in over our heads in Viet Nam, and was a
Texan. Another 20 minutes down the road I came across the town of
Johnson, home of our 36th president. Again, I missed my turn as 290
jogged left. Johnson has a population of about 400 people. As I passed
through the town square on my way back to 290 (again) I quickly realized
that Johnson town hall is big enough to hold all of Johnson's residents,
most of their relatives, and a good portion of their livestock as well.
Out came the F-1 for another round of photos. Of town hall against an
impossibly blue sky, the bank, standing as it did in the mid 19th
century, stonelike and secure. The granary with its hodgepodge of
historic and modern equipment blending together.
Back on the road, hill country meandered downward with a long, undulating
descent onto Texas' massive plain. Down into the bowels of this rocky,
hilly, watery asteroid known as Earth. The car was performing
flawlessly. The only problem was that it was too cold to put the top
down. As hill country gave way to the plains, and clear skies began to
give way to clouds, I saw a farm house sitting in front of a butte with
cloud activity overhead. The F-1 didn't miss a beat.
I was beginning to see the things about the landscape I had wanted to
capture on film. I was, however, missing a windmill. Not that there
weren't dozens of them, one at least every mile or two. But they all
looked new, like Texas had a state referendum on replacing the old, rusty
wind pumps with shiny galvanized ones. Who wants to photograph a shiny
new windmill? It would have to wait.
Copyright 1995 Andy Ramm
To be continued...