Tattered Jeans

Patsy Cravens is a Houston original — and her garden is, too

Patsy Cravens has many passions, connected like a string of Christmas lights.

Her book (her baby really) — Leavin' a Testimony: Portraits from Rural Texas — is only one of her passions.  The book was published in 2006 but it was in the works long before. 

In the 1980’s Patsy began interviewing and photographing the residents of Colorado County from an earlier generation.  The end result?  A labor of nothin’ but love. 


Patsy and her book

Patsy's hands and her book

If you know Patsy just a little – then go looking for her house – you’ll see signs all over the place that say Patsy Cravens lives here!  So do other things, and from the looks of them – happily.  Her yard is as much her story as her book. 


"Welcome to My Garden"

This woman (grandmother of eight) is stronger than dirt.  She speaks directly, looks right at you and you’ll know right away if you’ve pissed her off.  I dig this.  It’s trust building.

Recently, we were having lunch at her house, and she was talking about her recent trip, called a Native American Culture Tour.  The part that struck me most was something that had struck Patsy.  During the trip, she’d had an opportunity to observe a woman perform a butterfly dance.  In describing this, Patsy said, “She was beaming!  She was having such a good time, it was a joy to watch.”  Patsy’s an appreciator.  Boy, couldn’t the world use more of these?


Patsy and Sammy kitty

I don’t remember how but from there, we moved to an entirely different topic, “the news.”  Patsy said something like the most terrifying people in the world are the ones who watch the news.  The comment had a double meaning but either way, I found it funny.  When I laughed, Patsy slammed her hand down on the table more than once in rapid succession.  “Stop it Katie!  Stop it!  I’m serious!” she said.  Indeed she was – her point being that THIS is serious.  Good for her, I thought and thank God for the passionate.  


Signs and bench

When I left her house that day, it took me longer to leave her yard.  In it, I discovered the world according to Patsy Cravens.  You should go there some time and just sit on her bench.  Look up at the bees.  Listen while they work.  You’ll see a lot more too.

It reminded me of something I once heard.  Power never comes through the front door – it’s in the bushes. 

Like I said, Patsy’s yard is her story.

Sign in Patsy's yard

Bees at work

Once a screech owl box, now inhabited by bees

A green combustion

Patsy's yard is a certified wildlife habitat.

Patsy's rain chain brings water from the roof to the ground

Patches, her dog, looks right at you, too.

Patches peering at something in the distance.

Patches rootin' around in Patsy's yard

Bumper sticker on Patsy's car

Patsy Cravens