Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness – Edward Abbey, 1968

Like Walden gone right. I loved it, but I’m going to have to re-read it later to grab all the quotes I want… how do I manage to read without post-its at hand (sorry, sticky notes!) when I know I’ll never remember what I want to? Too quick to read, too slow to think and write, as usual. But I very much look forward to re-reading and re-savoring this, especially because I wasn’t able to attend the Nature and Environment book group discussion. But then I might just end up quoting big chunks, like this:

[In Delicate Arch] you may see a symbol, a sign, a fact, a thing without meaning or a meaning which includes all things.
Much the same could be said of the tamarisk down in the canyon, of the blue-black raven croaking on the cliff, of your own body. The beauty of Delicate Arch explains nothing, for each thing in its way, when true to its own character, is equally beautiful. (There is no beauty in nature, said Baudelaire. A place to throw empty beer cans on Sunday, said Menken.) If Delicate Arch has any significance it lies, I will venture, in the power of the odd and unexpected to startle the senses and surprise the mind out of their ruts of habit, to compel us into a reawakened awareness of the wonderful—that which is full of wonder.
A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has the curious ability to remind us—like rock and sunlight and wind and wildflowers—that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous, then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on Earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.

The one of the many, many quotes I would have marked, had I had the sticky notes, that stuck its sticky self in my brain so I had to go back and find it: “the delicious magical green of a young cottonwood with its ten thousand exquisite leaves vibrating like spangles in the vivid air.” The older I get, the more I love trees. Thank you, Edward Abbey.

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