Return to Heartwood is a beautifully bound, hard-cover book, 10 in. by 8 in. size, 120 pages in length, with 57 black-and-white photographs paired with 55 essays. The Foreword is written by James Fox-Smith, publisher of Country Roads Magazine.
What began as a learning exercise, a long-term photographic study of a single subject, has grown into a calling, a four-decade-long pilgrimage deep into the heart of Louisiana’s live oak country to find and document the state’s oldest oaks, many growing before European settlement of this region.
In Return to Heartwood – A Search for the Heart of Live Oak Country, author and photographer William Guion shares his experiences in search of ancient and historic Southern live oak trees. In the process, he came to know the old oaks as sentient beings that are an essential part of the history, culture, and ecology of the Southern landscape—and the heart and soul of Southern life.
Through these haunting “oak portraits” and personal essays, you are transported deep into the heart of Louisiana’s misty and mysterious bayou country. Here you will wander into moss-draped corridors of ancient oak alleys, through fog-shrouded oak groves, and into dazzling mornings and ghostly twilights to commune with these iconic elder trees of the deep South.
This book is a chronicle of Guion’s forty-year journey through live oak country in search of the oldest remaining live oaks in Louisiana. It is part autobiography, part history, and part appeal to preserve the remaining old oaks before they and their stories are lost forever.