Travelin’ Man

Hyder, Alaska, © Telfer Wegg
Hyder, Alaska, © Telfer Wegg

“I’m a travelin’ man, I’ve made a lot of stops all over the world.” —Jerry Fuller, songwriter

During the spring of 2001 I visited Fredricksburg, Texas, which is located more-or-less in the middle of an area known proudly as Hill Country.

Looking back on that week I have a few regrets: the bluebonnet flowers (the reason I was there) were sparse due to a drought, which I couldn’t do anything about…I didn’t walk around town in the cool, fresh mornings…and I didn’t order ribs from any of the back-of-the-pickup barbecue vendors parked alongside the highways, with their blackened grills and hand-lettered signs.

One thing I did learn in a hurry about Texans, though, is they don’t want you on their property. They’re not unfriendly—far from it: they simply regard property as private, with a capitol P and posted clearly. Keep Out.

For example: from a small paved road I’d spied a distant meadow dotted with broad oak trees and overrun by those elusive bluebonnets. It was down a red clay track a mile or so, and behind one of Those Signs. With wide-angle visions of the scene in mind I drove to the city library, where the county keeps a basement office to sort out who-owns-what. Within minutes I was looking at a detailed aerial photo of my meadow, and with the owner’s name on a slip of paper I headed over to the service station where (I was told) his caretaker worked. He turned out to be friendly, too, but the ranch’s owner (every spot of land in Texas, no matter how small, is a ranch) lived in San Antonio or Austin (or both) and didn’t want any visitors. So, those bluebonnets wilted without me.

But I didn’t give up. When I drove out of Fredricksburg the next morning I wandering slowly northward, keeping my eyes peeled for flowers, and it was on another narrow stretch of roadway that I met Telfer Wegg.

I’d pulled to the side of the road, set up my tripod, and was shooting one of those Texas-sized landscapes that include plenty of dry brush and cattle when he parked his vehicle in front of mine and came over to do the same. A few lines of conversation established that he, too, wasn’t from around those parts. “Hot, eh?”

Now, that’s an accent I recognize, no doubt aboot it, and I soon learned that he lives in the village of Neustadt in Ontario’s Grey County and works out of a home photography studio—when he’s home. If the weather’s cold he’s likely to migrate towards warmth…Australia or New Zealand, say…and when he isn’t flying somewhere he’s out crisscrossing North America, putting high mileage on his car and high quality through his camera.

There’s no doubt about that, either.

Up with the sun, gone with the wind. —Bob Seger, songwriter


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