Warning. If you are someone with a love of the open spaces, of Native American culture, history and story then this book will consume you. But this is a quiet book. “Simple.” It gives you the recipe but then it’s on you to do something with it.
The setting? Mostly Four Corners. Enough New Mexico to make me happy. The chapter about a bus ride from Utah to New Mexico was my favorite chapter but others were right up there too.
Terry Tempest Williams writes so beautifully it’s hard to describe. Maybe I like her so much because her casual mentions of things like sage, the light, the color of the land aren’t so casual to me. She talks of her father and brothers hovering over deer tracks, talking to themselves about the context of what those tracks mean. My “deer track” conversation was a duck blind in the wilds of Indiana, with my father. He with his shotgun and me with my BB gun. I was cold, somewhat scared but so alive even though I had no chance at doing harm to any slow moving duck. Dad packed food and little surprises for me. He wasn’t there to hunt. He was there to watch me attempt to understand the hunt, the process, the responsibility that comes with understanding the food chain. And watching the sun come up over the water and grass, well, I don’t need to explain how great that is.
Pieces of White Shell: A Journey to Navajoland is beautiful, and filled with beautiful illustrations. I’m building a library of Southwest and Western literature, and this baby is now in the mix.