An accomplished photographer brings the Hill Country to the pages of his new book–and it’s a keeper.
For all the international interest in the two major metropolitan areas near the Edward’s Plateau‘s eastern front, relatively few people beyond Texas fully appreciate the rugged beauty of our region. Yet there’s so much to be experienced! As Eric W. Pohl points out in the introduction to his new book, “An excursion along the byways of the Texas Hill Country reveals an awe-inspiring land brimming with scenic wonders that are perhaps unexpected, yet quintessentially Texas.”
Pohl’s Texas Hill Country: A Scenic Journey debuted earlier this year, and Schiffer Publishing graciously provided a copy to us for review. A travel writer and photographer originally from Houston, Pohl now lives with his family in Dripping Springs. His work has appeared in several prominent regional publications, including Texas Monthly, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Co-Op Power Magazine, and Texas Highways. This is his second book.
Through this latest work Pohl does an exceptional job of conjuring up for readers an experience similar to that of driving along a backroad (or through a state park) and having an “A-ha!” moment of wonder. He opens with a quintessential photograph of a bluebonnet field but then quickly moves beyond the trope to share an array of images including historic buildings, arid, desert-like vistas, and fern-drenched waterfalls. Rivers, trees, vegetation, sunsets, windmills, and abandoned stone buildings–all the region’s classic metonyms (parts that symbolize the whole) are present.
Because there are few human forms captured on the page and the text is spare, the book has a haunting quality to it. Some images seem to invite us to step into the historic Anhalt dance hall (built in 1875) or unto the front porch of the famous Luckenbach store. Others, like the wintery photo of native grass and hardwoods in Hays County or a foggy spring morning on the Pedernales watershed, are more halting, especially for those of us concerned about how unchecked development and encroachment threatens the region’s precious ecosystem.
Every image included bears a caption, and there is a brief, well written introduction that hit the necessary highlights: the region’s legendary German settlements, types of festivals one finds today (lavender, music, and German-Texan heritage to name a few), and our passion for “tubing” in warm months. (For the non-Texans, tubing is short for “inner-tubing,” and it’s long been a popular tradition to float down a river in a tube with friends and family.) Geology gets a nod, too, specifically the Edwards Plateau that serves to define the Hill Country. There is a summary of what caused the area’s “geological and subterranean wonders” and a mention of the famous Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg.
All in all, the publication is a compact, satisfying addition to one’s library or guest room stash. It would make for a lovely gift, too. Long-timers and homesick Texans will find the familiar vistas comforting. Newcomers and out-of-towners? They, one hopes, will be encouraged to look beyond the city limits of Austin and San Antonio for new spaces to discover in our region.
Pamela Price is the founder of THE TEXAS WILDFLOWER and the author of two parenting books.
Texas Hill Country: A Scenic Journey (Schiffer Publishing, 2017) by Eric W. Pohl is available for purchase from most area booksellers. For your shopping convenience, we’re also providing an Amazon Affiliate link (here) through which we may receive a commission. Thanks for your support!
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