Crossing Open Ground

Crossing Open Ground

by Barry Lopez

The author travels through the American Southwest and Alaska, discussing endangered wildlife and forgotten cultures.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Environment
  • Rating: 4.13
  • Pages: 224
  • Publish Date: May 14th 1989 by Vintage
  • Isbn10: 0679721835
  • Isbn13: 9780679721833

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As an collection of journalistic pieces and essays, Crossing Open Ground is slightly less consistent in its overwhelming awe than Lopez' other works. There are several of the latter kind of work in this collection, and they are all gems among the accumulated sediment of modern thinking about the human place in nature.

Outstanding set of 14 essays that help the reader experience special places and people in the Northwest, Arctic, and desert Southwest and the meaning of the individual's place in nature.

the essays contained within crossing open ground vary greatly in theme and subject, though lopez's abiding humility before the brilliance of the natural world is evident throughout. among the collection's strongest pieces are "a presentation of whales" (about the mass beaching of 41 sperm whales on the oregon coast in 1979), "the passing wisdom of birds" (recalling the senseless mass destruction cort├ęs wrought upon the resplendent avian populations of tenochtitlan in 1520), "grown men" (a touching tribute to three mentor-like friends), "searching for ancestors" (about the vanished anasazi), "landscape and narrative" (regarding the intersection of storytelling and nature), and "a reflection on white geese" (about the large number of visiting bird populations on tule lake in northern california). without a single extraneous essay, crossing open ground aptly exemplifies lopez's literary proficiency and leaves the reader with a lasting sense of awe, wonder, and respect for the natural world.

But I think intimacy is indispensable - a feeling that derives from the listener's trust and a storyteller's certain knowledge of his subject and regard for his audience. This intimacy deepens if the storyteller tempers his authority with humility, or when terms of idiomatic expression, or at least the physical setting for the story, are shared." *** "Gone Back into the Earth" about his trip water rafting the Colorado through the Grand Canyon with Paul Winter has left an indelible picture in my mind and I'd love to listen to the music Paul Winter recorded during that trip.

"One learns the landscape not by knowing the name or identity of everything in it, but by perceiving the relationships in it." Caribou crossing - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge I didn't really doubt it, but I was happy that Lopez's lyrical writing and mood continued into his essays, having only read his creative short fiction to date.

An argument for wilderness that goes deeper still is that we have an ethical obligation to provide animals with a place where they are free from the impingement of civilization.

With love to Uncle James and Aunt Olive." At the end of reading this collection of nature essays, I felt like I knew myself better, and that guy who wrote the note, and everyone else who lives on this planet.

Lopez has shown me an entire universe in a stone, a creation as large as the earth in a grain of sand.

I dont remember how long I walked before I reached a crowd of people around a beached whale that had washed ashore and been stranded. I remember thinking, like Annie Dillard, this is a great place to live, theres a lot to think about. I was stunned at the size of it and the smell was too much for me, so I spent less time that I wished I had looking at it. Barry Lopez, a living god of nature writing, stunned me with the story of forty-one stranded sperm whales on the coast of Oregon in A Presentation of Whales. Imagine a forty-five-year-old male fifty feet long, a slim, shiny black animal cutting the surface of green ocean water at twenty knots. Imagine a four-hundred-pound heart the size of a chest of drawers driving five gallons of blood at a stroke through its aorta; a meal of forty salmon moving slowly down twelve-hundred feet of intestinethe sperm whales brain is larger than the brain of any other creature that ever livedWith skin as sensitive as the inside of your wrist. Gone Back into the Earth tells of a trip down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon, and is the perfect example of a trip that changed him. From the rims the canyon seems oceanic; at the surface of the river the feeling is intimate. (in ones life, in the life of human beings, in the life of a planet)- that reverberate constantly, and make the human inclination to judge (another person, another kind of thought) seem so eerie Two kinds of time pass here: sitting at the edge of a sun-warmed pool watching blue dragonflies and black tadpoles. I do not know, really, how we will survive without places like the Inner Gorge of the Grand Canyon to visit. The external landscape is the one we see-not only the line and color of the land and its shading at different times of the day, but also its plants and animals in season, its weather, its geology If you walk up, say, a dry arroyo in the Sonoran Desert you will feel a mounding and rolling of sand and silt beneath your foot that is distinctive. Among the Navajo, the land is thought to exhibit sacred ordereach individual undertakes to order his interior landscape according to the exterior landscape. It is, in part, a spiritual invocation of the order of the exterior universe, that irreducible, holy complexity that manifests itself as all things changing through time (a Navajo definition of beauty).