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Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wildby Ellen Meloy
Synopses & Reviews
An inspired reflection on the bond between wild creatures and the human imagination, told as a chronicle of four seasons with a band of rare desert bighorn sheep.
Among the steep cliffs of Utah’s canyonlands a band of rare desert bighorn sheep simply vanished. Although the word “extinct” was bandied about, their passing seemed to fit the downward spiral of native wildlife in the Southwest that began in the early twentieth century. Remote, isolated, and elusive, this band slipped through the cracks. The bighorns were gone. Then they came back.
We have allowed ourselves few places and scant ways to witness other species in their own world, Ellen Meloy writes, an estrangement that has left us lonely and spiritually hungry. Now, with generous empathy and wry humor, the award-winning author of The Anthropology of Turquoise describes the mystery of the bighorns’ self-rescue. In the role of an “amiable, nosy neighbor,” Meloy matches her seasonal geography to theirs, observing cycles of breeding and birth, predators and death, the exquisite match of animal to place, of blood and bone to a magnificent redrock canyon.
On backcountry hikes, downriver floats, and travels to Mexico, the Great Basin, and the Chihuahuan Desert, Meloy roams the rugged habitat of these intriguing and precarious natives. Throughout, we revel with her in the air, light, and dazzling colors of the high desert. Most of all, we come to understand why she finds that watching wild animals intensely is very much like prayer.
From the Hardcover edition.
A close-up portrait of a year in the life of a herd of rare desert bighorn sheep follows these enigmatic animals and their behavior, life cycles, and habitat, and offers an evocative celebration of the desolate splendor of their rugged high desert environment. Reprint.
Long believed to be disappearing and possibly even extinct, the Southwestern bighorn sheep of Utah’s canyonlands have made a surprising comeback. Naturalist Ellen Meloy tracks a band of these majestic creatures through backcountry hikes, downriver floats, and travels across the Southwest. Alone in the wilderness, Meloy chronicles her communion with the bighorns and laments the growing severance of man from nature, a severance that she feels has left us spiritually hungry. Wry, quirky and perceptive, Eating Stone is a brillant and wholly original tribute to the natural world.
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