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October 29 , 2007

Impressions of the Big Thicket


Before the establishment of the Big Thicket Nature Preserve, the Big Thicket of Texas became a symbol of nature's last stand against encroaching civilization. Here, in a mingling of ecological zones, come together plants, animals, and birds—many of them rare—the flora and fauna of north and south, east and west. Northern maples and beeches stand not too great a distance from cypresses and Southern magnolias. American hollies grow large and orchids bloom among Northern ferns. Mesquite and tumbleweed, plants of the Western desert, survive where the annual rainfall averages sixty inches. On a major flyway, the Big Thicket is a stopping place for many birds in passage as well as home to a wide variety. Beavers build their dams there, and an occasional coyote yips in the night.Because of its great beauty and rich natural resources, use of the Big Thicket was the object of a forty-year struggle involving financiers, politicians, conservationists, and countless Thicket lovers. Each group viewed the Thicket from a different perspective and foresaw its future in different terms.This book records the impressions of two Thicket lovers. Michael Frary's paintings and drawings of woods and water, of birds in flight and strange plants growing close to the moist earth are pictures of a place, a time, a mood caught today—and not the same if left until tomorrow. The qualities of gentleness and violence are constant, but often hidden—there to be brought out by human need or human greed.William Owens writes of the people who have lived their lives in the Big Thicket, who have stirred its stillness with whoop and holler across the waters, who have taken in its stillness and explosive beauty until they themselves are made up of gentleness and violence.Together the impressions show what the Big Thicket was and is. What it will be—that is the chief concern of the book.
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