Remembering Basin and Range

It is basin and range, all the way from where I was born in the Wasatch to the Sierras. With a mountain range every fifty to one hundred miles and wide flat valley between. Ecological islands following the route of the great continental subduction. Like wrinkles in a piece of cloth they track thinning crust which produces unique landscape and species. I miss that environment.

Here in Texas there is a place just as special that draws me back over and over again. It is the Big Bend and Chisos Mountains. I’m not a flatlander by inclination so any time I spend in or near mountains is special to me. My senses become a little keener, with eyes unconstrained by the works of men. You can dream primal dreams there.

Ageing – Not Gracefully

This old lumber truck has been the subject of many of my photographs over the last ten years. It sits at the side of a dead-end country lane in the Texas Hill country next to a family run saw mill. I first photographed it on a sunny spring day when flowers were blooming through the rotting planks of the long flat bed. The scene was quite beautiful almost like a postcard of rural tranquility.

The truck was mostly intact the first time I saw it except for the wooden planking of the bed. The key was still in the ignition like someone had thrown their work gloves on the dash and stepped out after a day’s work. The years have taken a toll on the old truck. Someone broke out the side windows and mirrors to allow rain to eat at the interior of the cab. It also looks like a raccoon nested inside one winter. The sad signs of abandonment and terminal decline are evident.

As a subject the old truck just keeps getting more photogenic with each visit. It is settling onto the landscape and becoming a little more organic, if steel can ever be said to be organic, every day. An artifact of twentieth century American manufacturing prowess turned signature of Rustbelt glory.

Somehow in the post industrial twenty first century products just appear from somewhere, who knows where, for us to enjoy. We have no need for the cold hard steel that made us who we once were. My twentieth century immigrant grandfather, uncles and cousins who worked the railroad shops as machinists and tool makers would be lost here.

There is no room for nostalgia about the twentieth century. Too soon, too many souls are still around to tell it like it was. There is insufficient time yet for history to apply varnish to the old century. There is still too much evidence left to allow for a good story.