Who more than the Southwesterners whoÆve boldly claimed their home under the same tornado skies could have more cause to celebrate the millennium? And a celebration is exactly what Neugebauer and McDonald have forged in the historic photographs and poems theyÆve paired to tell the story of the settlement and so much more.
Eighty-three photographs from Texas Tech UniversityÆs Southwest CollectionÆs bounty of more than 500,000 reflect needs basic to all humankind: food, clothing, shelter, government, recreation, and spirituality.
McDonaldÆs new and selected poems connect to the moments in time that the photographs preserve, but evoke stories that focus on the scope and quality of life both then and in the century since ranching and farming came to the region.
"By yoking together those people separated by decades,ö the authors say, ôwe hoped to show more harmony than contrasts between generations, between bold pioneers and their blessed inheritorsùat risk, but singing on the same wide plains, under the same tornado skies, the same vast thousand miles of stars.ö
This millennial masterpiece is actually a prequel to their earlier collaboration All That Matters: The Texas Plains in Photographs and Poems and the culmination of a vision the authors say theyÆve shared for almost a decade.
The Price They Paid for Range
Bone white caliche undercuts our dust.
Most trees dry up, stunted on starving roots.
To save imported stumps, we ditch the fields
with peat imported from swamps,
tamp bone meal into dirt for roses.
Cactus rode here as burrs with soldiers,
their Spanish ponies stumbling
under the sun, dumping knobs of seeds
from weed fields miles away.
Wind taught our fathers how to survive
so far from forests: build low and far apart
and ration water. Let stallions and cattle
be enough, rough bunks and windmills
the way to pray, cow chips for fire, cactus
and rattlers the price they paid for range
and a thousand miles of stars.