Cenizo Journal Winter 2023 - Page 7

Cenizo Notes by Danielle Gallo , Editor

ON THE COVER : Alpine , Texas , God ’ s Country by Kimberly Peña
Originally from Oklahoma , Kimberly Peña grew up loving travel and landscape photography . While she currently works in education she takes every opportunity to expand her love of this type of photography . On her first trip to the Big Bend area , where her husband ' s family had lived for generations , she was captivated by its quiet , unique beauty . The image , " Alpine Texas , God ' s Country " was inspired by her husband ' s late grandfather , Higinio Peña , who took her on many trips to see different parts of the Big Bend area and would always say how beautiful it was because this part of Texas was in his words , God ' s Country . This photo was taken on a sunset drive along Highway 118 just south of Alpine , one of her favorite drives . She currently resides in Buda , Texas but visits the area as much as possible .
“ I love the subdued tonal range of this landscape . It ’ s not a loud , burning sunset against silhouetted mountains , a shot that I ' m sure we ' ve all taken . This photo was possibly captured while taking a quiet , meditative morning stroll .”
- Michael Howard 2022 Alpine TX Photo Contest Judge


PUBLISHER Riley Stephens publisher @ cenizojournal . com
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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Danielle Gallo editor @ cenizojournal . com
We ’ d like to feature your work in the Cenizo Journal . Contact Danielle Gallo at editor @ cenizojournal . com for submission information or mail to PO Box 227 , Marathon , Texas 79842 .
Cenizo Journal is published four times per year . © 2023 Cenizo Journal . Copyright of all art and images contained within are retained by the image owner and are used with permission .
Happy top of the year to the denizens of the Trans-Pecos . Rejoice , the solstice has passed and the days are lengthening .
Whenever I wander down south along the river in January , I ’ m always astonished to see the bluebonnets poking their heads out to greet the sun . It always seems they ’ re jumping the gun a bit , especially these past few years , when snow appears to be becoming the norm in February , and March has been reluctant to warm up .
I think about old Sam Nail on his ranch in what is now Big Bend National Park , on the banks of a dry creek dotted with cottonwood trees . I imagine him lighting the fire in the early dark of a January morning , when the air is biting and the sun takes forever to clear the peaks of the Chisos just there to the east . The fig trees in his orchard would have been leafless and still , the ocotillo skeletal . The short days set in a backdrop of brown grasses and miles upon miles of creosote , little birds hopping from one to the other , hoping for something to eat . No hum of insects . Just the dry yellow earth and the dry leafless shrubs . But here and there , bluebonnets beginning to break through the hardpan . All of a sudden , a spot of green stalk and purple flower . A Pollyanna in the desert , with a promise of soft spring right around the corner .
Spring is fickle . It gets our hopes up , just to dash them with a sudden freeze . The winds howl along at 60 miles per hour , sometimes for days on end , making everyone crazy and sandblasting the car . It ’ s too hot or too cold , bone dry or a deluge . But what a wonderful disturbance after the long sleepy winter , and what a joy when it turns out just right for a change , and the land warms and celebrates the frenzy of renewal it ’ s been waiting for .
As 2023 begins , I ’ m mindful of the people who aren ’ t with me this time around , to begin the rapid fall down through the year . There are some that have moved away , and some have died . I find the longer I stay in this one place , the stranger it is to lose members of my community . When I think of my neighbors and friends , it never occurs to me that they might not be here to celebrate the new year , and see the bluebonnets come out . Founding families and matriarchs fade away . Friends and companions are suddenly absent . There ’ s an empty space there , and I ’ m aware for the first time that I took their presence for granted .
I hope the New Year offers all of us an opportunity to look forward to the warm times ahead , and that they ’ re full of flowers that make it through the fickle weather . And I hope , too , that we can remember the ones who are absent this spring , and appreciate the ones who are still with us .
Welcome , 2023 , be good to the Big Bend .

Winter 2023 7