The Interpreter’s Eye

Snowy egret (Egretta thula), High Island, Texas, by Ted Lee Eubanks
Snowy egret (Egretta thula), High Island, Texas, by Ted Lee Eubanks

A snowy egret isn’t a rare bird. Nowhere along the Texas coast is this bird difficult to see. Snowy egrets are background birds.

Photographs of snowy egrets aren’t rare, either. Egrets are large, gregarious, and easy to see and photograph. New bird photographers, once they have disposed of the birds in the yard, often move to herons, egrets, and other long-legged waders.

Kansas Native Stone

Native Stone Scenic Byway, KS, by Ted Lee Eubanks
Native Stone Scenic Byway, KS, by Ted Lee Eubanks

When you hear the word “Kansas” what first comes to mind? Flat? Dorothy? What about stone, as in native stone?

Native stone is the essential Kansas. Once an inland ocean, the shallow soils of much of Kansas are underlain with limestone strata. Pioneers soon discovered that while lacking in trees (think lumber) Kansas did not lack building materials. These pioneers soon found ways of using stone in place of lumber, as in native stone fence posts, fences, jails, churches, buildings, and the like.

NCTC Gateway Gathering

Stir the Blood

Bullock Texas State History Museum by Ted Lee Eubanks
Bullock Texas State History Museum by Ted Lee Eubanks

The man for whom history is bunk is almost invariably as obtuse to the future as he is blind to the past…J. Frank Dobie

Austin began with Shoal Creek sitting on the sidelines. Edwin Waller adopted Shoal Creek as the western edge of the new city, and his to-be namesake as the eastern boundary. Congress Avenue became the centerline.

No longer.  Austin is upside down, inside out. The city sprawls past these edges into the white-rocked and cedar-treed hinterlands. Shoal Creek neighborhoods like Old Enfield and Pemberton Heights, renewed and revitalized, eject thousands of motorists each morning to wend their ways to downtown employment.

Great Cities, Great Spaces

Austin at night from Auditorium Shores, by Ted Lee Eubanks
Austin at night from Auditorium Shores, by Ted Lee Eubanks

Austin has no Burnham Plan. Austin has no Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Austin has no Wissahickon. We improve our spaces on an ad hoc, piecemeal basis. Yet to become a great city, Austin will need great spaces like those designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted, fashioned with a Jacobsian sensitivity for the people.