|"Coastal Cruising" courtesy wildlife artist Daniel Smith|
|Mary Dobbs, Spanish Mustang Collection|
When we truly occupy a landscape, moment by moment - aware of each blade of grass stirred by each unsettled thought, and when we describe this physical world for the reader - we create a portal into our story, a way for the reader to enter and begin to co-inhabit the world of our characters. But first, we must inhabit it ourselves. We must relearn what it means to be attentive, and we must relearn what it means to be silent. Only then can we move deeply into a scene and truly occupy it.
|PW photos by Christy Whitney|
Human experience always happens here, on Planet Earth, unless of course, it doesn't. Lyle Balenquah, Hopi member of the Greasewood Clan from the Village of Bacavi (Reed Springs) on Third Mesa, explains in his essay "Connected by Earth" (Thinking Like a Watershed: Voices from the West,Jack and Celestia Loeffler) that human experience has three parts.
"One part is strictly physical," writes Lyle Balenquah, "putting some aspect of our bodies in touch with the natural world, breathing it in. Another part is spiritual - having a metaphysical experience or feeling between our natural world that is beyond the physical, but is most like a result of the physical. And yet one other part can be viewed as a conscious connection - a mental exercise in which without the physical or spiritual contact, we remain cognizant of the simple fact that we are indeed a part of a larger natural world."
So, to inhabit a place means to touch it, to breathe it in and then to let this tactile, physical relationship lead us to a broader awareness.
|Photo courtesy John Gritts|
The way these mountains "shed" water, the rivers and lakes and creeks into which the water gathers, make up the watershed of the region, "...within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community..." (John Wesley Powell).
|Playing during Page's River Writing Journey|