Utah has given other gifts. I’m a published writer with a royalty check taped to my refrigerator. (A first.) A giant walnut tree shades my house, on a corner lot far from the sketchier parts of Salt Lake. (Both firsts!) I no longer need a man to feel whole so of course the universe provided one, a talented realized man who made the break out of Utah with me thirty years ago and comes now to take up where we left off—only we’re both ready this time. He's like a Cezanne painting with a sense of humor. All my dials spin with Jeff.
To begin to say thanks and good-bye to Utah, I’m going to quote from a newly published Utah author whose sensitivity to the austere desert environs here makes my heart muscle relax and my mind quietly expand. Ahhh. Images of Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, coupled with George B. Handley’s words from his newly released Home Waters.
“Love of beauty motivated by nothing more than a fear of death is hedonism, but acceptance of death without deep attachment to beauty is pure nihilism.”
(A particular favorite of this landscape designer.)
“Ecological restoration is neither technophilia nor antihuman escapism.
It is repentance, plain and simple.”
Let’s all take a moment to repent.
And to rejoice. Handley's love of place requires this, too.
"...whenever I sat down to write about the watershed, I found myself increasingly unable to separate place from story, outdoor recreation from ecological and spiritual restoration, the present from the past, and, even against my will, the historical from the personal.
"At first this was distressing, but it became apparent to me that to write in this fashion was a way of resisting the disintegration of landscape, community, and memory that characterize modern life. This is the way of things with watersheds. They gather tributaries from upstream that connect all that is above, beneath, and beside, and give life through unseen processes of exchange."
Those unseen processes of exchange are the world's thanksgiving. Like water, like stones, like stands of wild grasses, our unseen work connects us all. The name of my upcoming novel is Tributary. Handley's last sentence electrified me.
Thanks to Jody Barone for photos of our trip to the Utah Mediterranean.