Having a cold for several days that takes away your normal energy can lead to a great catching up with the books piled on your bedside table. And thus it has been for me this week. Leading to a nice rest and lot of pleasure – if wasn’t for the coughing here at the end of the cold.
I am not sure when or where I found Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, by Terry Tempest Williams. Perhaps it was when my friend Alicia closed her wonderful bookstore on Woodburn Avenue last summer, and I just filled a big green bag with every book that caught my eye. Or perhaps I was just wandering somewhere and it leapt into my hands – amazing how often that happens!
At any rate – this is a wonderful book, first published in 1991 and then updated in 2001. It is a sad story – Terry’s loss of her mother, grandmother, great grandmother to cancer. Turns out there is a very big downside to the U S Government’s A-bomb tests in the Western deserts. So the guys in her family are living longer than the women – breast cancer, uterine cancer, other cancers are taking the women. The love the women express for each other is beauty and poetry lived and died.
It is a beautiful and detailed story of the marshlands at the Great Salt Lake, and the hundreds of thousands of birds who bring life to the area. With sadness there, too – the degradation, the engineers fixing problems, the drop in numbers of birds in that wonderful area.
And a transfixing story of how Mormon women are also waking up to what their culture has done to them, even while they still love their religion.
I know I will have to check out Wiki about what Terry is doing now, and the current condition of the Great Salt Lake and its marshes – as well as the progress of growth and change in the Mormon church and its women members. So this will definitely lead to more reading – hopefully with Terry as the author – what a great idea!