The western part of the Edwards Plateau requires a practiced eye to see the severe beauty to be found there. The land and what lies beneath, has sustained generations of families. The landscape is so vast that people seem to disappear into windswept short grass and sky.
There are many opinions about crude oil and gas extraction that involve the future of the planet. Here concerns are rather less grand but more important in the moment. There is a stereotype of brash oil millionaires in urban folklore. The reality in the oilfield is of people working long hours for regular pay. The mineral wealth of Texas has allowed generations of families to prosper here.
Before petroleum there were ranchers on the plateau. The land is not fit for farming but cattle do well as long as there is water to drink. A cycle of drought stretching back into the nineteen fifties or further to the dust bowl has depopulated the land. Still some cattle ranchers hang on. Others have turned to sport hunting of exotic non-native species to make ends meet. You see a curious mixture of ranchers in old pickup trucks and modern SUVs full of well heeled hunting guests on the back roads.
The Guadalupe Dance Company performs folk dances at Luminaria Arts Night. San Antonio has a rich and diverse arts scene which is reflected in venues across the city. Luminaria Arts Night is an opportunity for artists of all types to showcase their work to the public in downtown San Antonio. Streets are closed and artists take over the city center for the evening to the delight of huge crowds. In many ways the combination of artists and audience of thousands of people are performance art.
Terlingua Texas is a ghost town that has been repopulated in recent years by a variety of folks who drifted in from other places. They are fiercely self-reliant as is demanded by the harsh climate of the borderland. Independence aside, the residents have built a community that looks after itself with a sense of open minded tolerance. That is with a strong streak of frontier ethic.
The town that existed at the turn of the nineteenth century was very different place. It was a company mining town. People there were engaged in dirty and dangerous manual labor. It was a place where you followed the rules and got on with the job of digging, transporting and refining red cinnabar ore into mercury. Every part of the process was dangerous; some such as handling the mercury were deadly. Even so, it was honest work which was a rare commodity in the wild Texas/Mexico borderland.
The historic Terlingua cemetery reflects an earlier era of cultural values than those common today. Walking through the cemetery you see the graves of miners and family members. Most are hand made by relatives or friends of those laid to rest. They are evidence of traditions stretching back into the distant past.
The old cemetery is in the middle of present day Terlingua. It is surrounded in close proximity by the current community. Those living there now maintain the cemetery and keep it safe. The character of the town has changed but a sense of continuity exists that extends to the old graves. Just as in the past, those who rest are still part of the community.