A WRITER'S WIT
The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one's life and discover one's usefulness.
Born May 27, 1912
My Book World
In this memoir author Annie Proulx speaks of what it means to build a home. She begins with an almost unlikely tale in which she and her sister are delayed by a very weird merchant, so much so that they come upon a car accident they might have been a part of if it hadn’t been for the weird man who is instrumental in delaying them. When she tells her mother of the incident, her mother reveals that the man’s name was Proulx, too.
Proulx has lived in many locales but seems to have taken quite a liking to the West, most assuredly New Mexico and Wyoming, where she decides to purchase land and build a place where she will live out her days:
“A bald eagle perched in a dead tree, watching us. The landscape was bold. Not only was the property on the North Platte River but the river ran through it, taking an east-west turn for a few miles in its course. The land was a section, 640 acres, a square mile of riparian shrubs and cottonwood, some wetland areas during June high water, sage flats and a lot of weedy overgrazed pasture” (46).
“Trying to understand Wyoming’s landscape where I could see the remains of Indian trails, stone flakes from their toolmaking, the tools themselves, images scratched into the dark desert varnish of rock faces, cairns and fire pits forced recognition: where there are humans there is always ecological change” (165).
“White men never understood the Indian way of consensus and insisted on dealing with a tribal leader or “chief,” another concept alien to Indians who learned to greatly distrust the lying, devious white men whose treaties were worthless. On the other side, most whites regarded Indian oratory as a kind of obstructionist filibustering, boring harangues, though some admired them and saw them as akin to classical Roman oratory” (171).
“The first day I saw Bird Cloud, in July 2003, I was astonished by the great number and variety of birds in this river habitat. A bald eagle sat in a tree near the river’s edge. Pelicans sailed downstream. I saw swallows, falcons, bluebirds, flocks of ducks burst up the the North Platte and flew over my head in whistling flight. Ravens croaked from the cliff. I thought my great avocation for the rest of my life would be watching these birds and learning their ways” (191).
“Gerald kept smashing a path through the drifts on the county road and managed to get in and out most days, taking a risk lover’s joy in the nauseating slides toward the ditch, the scrape of ice and packed snow on his truck’s undercarriage” (119).
“So ended the first and only full year I was to spend at Bird Cloud. I returned in March and for several more years came in early spring and stayed until the road-choking snow drove me out, but I had to face the fact that no matter how much I loved the place it was not, and never could be, the final home of which I had dreamed” (231).
NEXT TIME: PHOTOS