Author Archives: Larry Gfeller

Killing Unicorns

Nestled atop a promontory overlooking the Colorado River, an old Tonkawa sits cross-legged as he watches the setting sun paint the water in fool’s gold. Harchuknni comes here often. Shell earrings set off his chiseled face, two tipped feathers punctuate his parted white hair, the braids cascade down his chest. He wears a long loincloth, buckskin leggings with fish bones down the sides and beaded moccasins. How many sunsets does he have left? As he ponders the mystery of life, he embraces the impermanence of all living things…. Read More →

Back Roads Nature–Balmorhea State Park

It’s a prideful secret that area residents would like to keep to themselves—many Texans have never heard of it. Thousands stream down Interstate 10 each day, unaware that one of the world’s largest natural swimming holes is just a few miles off the highway. It has existed as a desert oasis in one form or another for more than 11,000 years and has reinvented itself many times over the ages. Today, Balmorhea State Park protects a spring-fed pool that boils up through the sandy bottom and pumps out… Read More →

Masters of Deceit

It’s a still, hot afternoon, no breeze blowing. The jungle is thick and muggy, rich from the abundant gift of rainfall. Near a stream, 100 yards away, is a clearing where the water bubbles down from the surrounding mountaintops. Mist, like the water’s breath, is visible in the shafts of light filtering through the canopy. There’s a shadowy disturbance—a slight movement as a soldier carefully enters the clearing.  He meticulously scans his surroundings, then leans his weapon against a banana tree and squats over the stream.  He’s filling… Read More →


The purpose of a curse is to inflict misfortune with moral significance—even a sense of justice. Curses, otherwise known as execrations, are as old as dirt—if not older. In Genesis 3:14 God says to the serpent, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals.” Whether or not you believe this, you must admit nature is full of calamitous events (coincidental or not) that provide support for the idea that curses exist. Disease, predation, starvation, draught and wildfire—take your pick.  In the human realm—also part of nature—we… Read More →

Back Roads Nature–South Llano River State Park

The proud Texas rancher quietly reminisced as he sat back and watched cloud shadows passing over the bushy hills, leaving dark bruises on the green slopes before him. Through hard work and persistence he’d found good fortune in Kimble County. Walter Buck Jr. didn’t invent air conditioned tractors or create the first automated stock gate . . . but he left his mark nonetheless. Having survived the terrible draught of the 1950’s, he appreciated the value of the Llano River chuckling through his land as it rolled vast… Read More →