From the Devils to the Panhandle

From the Devils to the Panhandle

I’ve just returned from the first leg of a statewide tour to tell the story of Texas springs. Texas Monthly photographer Sarah Wilson and I were welcomed with so much generosity in Uvalde, in Bracketville, in Del Rio and on the banks of the wild Devils River by people who love the waters of Texas.

We’re compiling the many stories and portraits we gathered with their help, with the goal of creating a web platform where people can find Texas springs, learn where this water comes from and how we are changing them. While we started in West Texas, we aim to tell the stories of any places where springs still live in Texas—and any places where a now-dead spring helps us to see how fragile these treasures are.

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So while my posts here may be sporadic, there’s work going on behind the scenes at Hell’s Oasis.

Stay tuned for more on our progress. And if there’s a spring or a spring-fed river you love, help us to tell its story by getting in touch with me. 

I’ll leave you with the words of Wendell Berry and a photograph of the White Shaman, who for 4,000 years has told the story of water in the state’s desert west. We found him in a canyon near the Devils River, the last truly wild river in Texas, whose waters emerge from dozens of springs along its bed.

The Springs

In a country without saints or shrines

I knew one who made his pilgrimage

to springs, where in his life’s dry years

his mind held on. Everlasting,

people called them, and gave them names.

The water broke into sounds and shinings

at the vein mouth, bearing the taste

of the place, the deep rock, sweetness

out of the dark. He bent and drank

in bondage to the ground.

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