ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
Texas Heartland: A Hill Country Year. Photographs by Jim Bones, Jr.
Text by John Graves. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press,
1975. Pp. 42+82 numbered plates and unnumbered frontispiece. In-
Someone way back there must have told us that Texas has no chang-
ing seasons; that the big sky is all there is; that the days pass in unrelieved
heat or occasional blue northers, the "either or" complex of
"They're either too gray or too grassy green,
The pickings are poor and the crop is lean."
The terrain of Jim Bones's Texas Heartland is the hill country that he
observed for a full year while living at Paisano Ranch just outside Austin.
The way he saw it is recorded in eighty-three colored plates, reproduced
from 4 by 5 inch transparencies that he took with a view camera, using a
squeeze-bulb shutter release. Accompanying the photographs is an essay,
"The Region and the Place," by the eminent writer John Graves. While
acknowledging that each disparate part of Texas has its own charm, its
own unique character, Graves maintains that for most Texans the hill coun-
try is a special place. The text is a brief history of the region's geography
and culture, sensitively pointing out how each has affected the other, and
ending on a note of hopefulness with the preservation of Paisano, a place
of grass, cliffs, water, and trees. Jim Bones in a short introduction reveals
that some of the things he has photographed have already been lost, and
that most people today don't know what a healthy environment looks like.
Any Sunday photographer traveling midday through the hill country can
show us the passing rural scene in a broken windmill, a dilapidated farm-
house, an abandoned gasoline station, or he might even produce a dramatic
Texas sky. Many good photographers have made use of such scenes for
effective comment, but that is not Bones's intention. He focuses on the
landscape, nature in detail, and he invites the viewer to look at what is
really there. How many times must we be reminded that Texas is not New
England? Some may see it as a sin to record anything that might hint of
another place outside Texas, and a greater sin to see things arrogantly
beautiful. If the artist isolates, as photographer Bones has done, a dawn
mist rising over Barton Creek (plate 2), or winter's hoarfrost on tickle-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101204/. Accessed June 3, 2015.