I just finished an amazing book. It is a collection of stories, essays, and reflections by David James Duncan called My Story as Told by Water: Confessions, druidic rants, reflections, bird-watchings, fish-stalkings, visions, songs, and prayers refracting light, from living rivers, in the age of the industrial dark. Long title, I know. This man speaks right to my heart, although sometimes he is really out there. His essay on the 4 dams on the Snake River slowly driving the native fish to extinction makes me want to go there and call a strike on the dams until they are brought down. The truths he tells about mine projects and the toxins that are leached into waters where wildlife drink and children swim downstream makes my heart ache. The river I rafted on, The Animas, has been cleaned up a lot from the mine tailings dumped into it at one point, but even that amount does not compare to the waste and toxic materials in some rivers both in the US and around the world. It scares me to think about what our industrial world is doing both to us and to the natural world. We really are slowly killing ourselves and all other life around us.
This man is a ridiculously good writer and tells his point WELL. You can FEEL just how much he loves water and all the life it sustains. One of my favorite quotes is when he starts talking about home and what it can mean:
"One of the harsh but deep consolations of watching a loved home place slip away from you is that, without the loved home, you're suddenly naked enough to feel the blood, begging direction. To feel that inner begging: to me, that's being home. Who hasn't noticed, in their world wanderings, the way we sometimes slip into a mysterious niche, even in the most foreign of places, and find things so suddenly familiar that we feel inexplicably yet completely at home? The cause of this at-home-ness is a mystery. The sensation is no less certain for that." That sense of home, of place, that he talks about is something I have felt. I felt it when I was in Bozeman. I even felt it when I was in Durango to an extent. I got the feeling that I belonged to that place and felt completely content in my surroundings. Walking down the street felt right. I call Montana my heart's home for a reason. I even felt it at some points when I lived in Barcelona, because the streets and people began to feel like home, even though the city became too much for me as my time there ended. To summarize, I LOVE this book.
I already loved his novels that I read a few years ago, and after reading this book I am going to have to find everything else he has written and sample them all! I think I'll have to re-read The Brothers K and The River Why as well.