When my latest issue of National Geographic came in the mail, I'd already seen the digital version. As such, that meant that I already knew that there was a photo of Kenneth Durst at his desk in Mason Feed Store which is prominently featured on a page by itself in that issue. The article is about the devastation of the ongoing drought in Texas, and they talk with Kenneth about the increased need of ranchers to provide feed for the cattle they were able to retain.
Mason is always happy when we can get some state or national press. In this case, I have to admit that it would have been nice if the author and photographer had taken even more pictures in our area. Maybe the water that, though low, continued to flow down the Llano River. Of the wildlife and livestock that, thanks to hard work by our farmers and ranchers, continued to survive and thrive.
When Mason does make the news, it is often, unfortunately, negative. Just a few weeks prior to the National Geographic piece, Mason made state news with photos of a propane tanker truck on its side in the middle of our town square. The media has learned that negative stories strike an emotional chord in readers, so they tend to focus on the wrecks, the deaths, the droughts and the bizarrely morbid.
There are few among us that wouldn't rather present ourselves at our very best. That's why we don't go out of the house until we've "got ourselves together." But, we can't always control what the world sees. Sometimes, visitors arrive in town just as storms move through blowing down trees and washing away cars. Sadly, they will remember their time here as the occasion when they almost didn't make it through the night.
So, all we can do is put our best face on and hope the cameras are aimed the other way when we split our pants or fall on our faces. The picture of Kenneth was actually one of the most upbeat photos in the Geographic article. While the other images showed absolute devastation, Kenneth's photo showed continuity, optimism and endurance. So, let's call that one a win.
We've made it into Edible Austin, Texas Monthly, Texas Highways, Texas Hill Country and many more over the years. We've been very fortunate with those articles in that they have presented some very positive images of our hometown. I think part of the reason for that positive coverage is that we have an incredible town and incredible people... so much so that it's difficult to make us look bad.
There will be the random articles that focus on something bad that happens.... a tornado, a flood, a fire. And, when those things happen and the photographers and videographers are bouncing around town trying to find some emotional images, here's what I think they'll find most often.
They will see pictures of families supporting their family members, and being supported by their neighbors.They will see images of landscapes that have been ravaged; but, that are rebounding from that damage.
They will see a community that, though it may not always get along and agree on everything, will pull together whenever the situation requires it, and emerges as an example of how things should work.
And, they will see us. With our shirts untucked. With our hair uncombed. With our faces unwashed. And they will know that we are the kind of town and the kind of people that they wish they could be.
Way to go Kenneth! Thanks for representing us.
It’s all just my opinion.