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Friday, November 3, 2017

Notes on John Bigelow, Jr., Lieutenant in the Tenth Cavalry

Because of multiple household moves this year I am behind schedule with the podcasts and the book project, but it does march on. In the meantime, here is a post over on my main blog, Madam Mayo, about John Bigelow, Jr., an officer in the Tenth Cavalry and a person, as I will argue, of far more importance than has been previously recognized. He will appear in my book, and also in a paper I will be presenting at this month's Center fo Big Bend Studies Conference at Sul Ross State University.

(Stay tuned for podcast 21 on the Seminole Scouts, podcast 22 on Sanderson, 23 an interview with archaeologist Andy Cloud, and 24 on the Blue Lady, Maria de Agreda-- meanwhile, as always, I invite you to listen in any time to the 20 podcasts posted to date.)

NOTES ON JOHN BIGELOW, JR. AND "GARRISON TANGLES IN THE FRIENDLESS TENTH: THE JOURNAL OF FIRST LIEUTENANT JOHN BIGELOW, FORT DAVIS, TEXAS"

As those of you who follow this blog well know, I live in Mexico City and have been at work on a book about the Trans-Pecos (that, is Far West Texas) for more than a spell. Books on the Trans-Pecos are sparse on the ground south of the border, so when I travel to Texas I always try to scour a bookshop or three. Thus have I accumulated a working library, including not a few rare and unusual books. 

For this sort of project, archival research is also important to do-- and I have done some-- but it can be woefully expensive to travel to and spend time working through archives. So whenever an historian has taken the trouble to transcribe and publish anything relevant from any archive of interest to me, I am triply grateful for such a find.

One example is the work by Douglas C. McChristian, a retired research historian for the National Park Service: "Garrison Tangles in the Friendless Tenth: The Journal of First Lieutenant John Bigelow, Jr, Fort Davis, Texas," published as a chapbook of about 60 pages by J.M. Carroll & Co in 1985. The copy I found is in excellent condition with, halleluja, a mylar cover and autographed by the editor.

Why is this excerpt from Lieutenant Bigelow's diary, from 1884-1885 in Fort Davis, Texas, so interesting and important?

>> CONTINUE READING


Monday, August 28, 2017

Hiking and Haiku in the Guadalupe Mountains

This is a mirror post from my main blog, Madam Mayo:

McKittrick Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Photo: C.M. Mayo
As those of you who follow this blog well know, I am at work on a book about Far West Texas and, as part of this work, back in May of this year, I was the artist-in-residence at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. About an hour and half drive east of El Paso, the Guadalupe Mountains are little visited, especially outside of holidays and weekends in the fall and spring seasons. Although I was there for the crush of Memorial Day weekend, it wasn't much of a crush; for the rest of my stay I often had trails all to myself-- except for the rattlesnakes. I happened upon two rattlesnakes in my two weeks, one curled up in the middle of the trail; the other darted out right in front of me, rattling loudly, from the brush. It's not Disneyland out there.

I'll be writing about the Guadalupe Mountains at length, but here I'd like to share a photo of my official donation to the park. All artists-in-residence give a workshop, and donate a work or art-- in my case, it will be a framed letterpress broadsheet of seven haiku, "In the Guadalupe Mountains."

The first haiku from "In the Guadalupe Mountains" by C.M. Mayo

This letterpress printing was done by Matthew Kelsey of Saratoga, California. Poets and others, I warmly recommend Matt Kelsey, he is a master craftsman and a pleasure to work with. The frame, being made here in Mexico City, is in-progress.

The seventh haiku from "In the Guadalupe Mountains" by C.M. Mayo

> Visit my poetry page here. I'll be posting the haiku there.

P.S. Last fall one of the artists-in-residence  in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park was one of my very favorite painters, Mary Baxter of Marfa, Texas. Listen in to my interview with her here. Check out her landscapes, many of the Guadalupe Mountains, here.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.




Sunday, May 28, 2017

Nature and Travel Writing in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park

El Capitan from the Pine Springs Station,
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
(This is a mirror post from my main blog, Madam Mayo.)

This past weekend for my workshops as artist-in-residence at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park I offered this handout which includes three brief, fun, easy-peasy and yet powerfully effective exercises to rev up your writerly perceptions.

We can think of the best writing about nature and travel, whether fiction or nonfiction, as instructions for the reader to form in his or her mind a "vivid dream," an experience of the world. How do we, whether as readers, or as any human being (say, folding laundry or maybe digging for worms with a stick), experience anything? Of course, we experience the world through our bodies, that is to say, through our senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing-- and I would add a "gut" or intuitive sense as well... CONTINUE READING

P.S. Loads more resources for writers on my workshop page.

> Some of my travel writing is herehere, and here.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Q & A with Mary S. Black about Her Book "From the Frio to Del Rio"

Just posted over on my main every-Monday blog, Madam Mayo:

One of my very favorite places not just in Texas but in the galaxy is the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, so I was delighted to see that Texas A & M Press has published Mary S. Black's splendid and much-needed guidebook, From the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to the Western Hill Country and Lower Pecos Canyonlands

From the catalog:
"Each year, more than two million visitors enjoy the attractions of the Western Hill Country, with Uvalde as its portal, and the lower Pecos River canyonlands, which stretch roughly along US 90 from Brackettville, through Del Rio, and on to the west. Amistad National Recreation Area, the Judge Roy Bean Visitors’ Center and Botanical Garden, Seminole Canyon State Park, and the Briscoe-Garner Museum in Uvalde, along with ghost towns, ancient rock art, sweeping vistas, and unique flora and fauna, are just a few of the features that make this distinctive section of the Lone Star State an enticing destination.
Mary S. Black
Author of Peyote Fire
and
From the Frio to Del Rio
"Now, veteran writer, blogger, and educator Mary S. Black serves up the best of this region’s special adventures and secret treasures. From the Frio to Del Rio is chock-full of helpful maps, colorful photography, and tips on where to stay, what to do, and how to get there. In addition there are details for 10 scenic routes, 3 historic forts and 7 state parks and other recreation areas."

Herewith an interview with the author:

C.M. MAYO: What inspired you to write this book? 



MARY S. BLACK: I think what inspired me was the land itself, and the history. The Lower Pecos Canyonlands are not well known by most people, but the landscape is incredibly majestic and unexpected. You can be driving 70 miles per hour down the highway through the desert, when, wham, a huge canyon veers off to the left like a sudden tear in the earth.  ... CONTINUE READING 

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

P.S. For the second half of this month I am artist-in-residence at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. I'll be giving a free travel and nature writing workshop, probably over Memorial Day weekend. Details to be announced shortly. And yes, the Marfa Mondays podcasts will resume ASAP. Twenty have been posted to date, four more are in-process for a total of 24. Listen in anytime here.






Monday, April 17, 2017

Bitter Waters: The Struggles of the Pecos River by Patrick Dearen



When I closed the cover of Patrick Dearen's Bitter Waters: The Struggles of the Pecos River it was with both gratitude and the unsettling sense of having arrived into new territory— raw, rich, appalling—in my understanding of Far West Texas. This is no minor thing to acknowledge; for some years now I have been at work on a book about that very region.

But first, for those who don't have a jones for, shall we say, Wild Westerie, why bring Far West Texas into the cross hairs? And why give a hoededo about its skinny river so salty, to quote one of Dearen's informants, that "a snake wouldn't drink it"?  CONTINUE READING

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.