In The Anthropology of Turquoise, Ellen Meloy writes “Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home–not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colors. How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you away. How you can fall in love with the light.”
Yes. Yes. Yes.
She gets it exactly right, over and over again. When I read Ellen Meloy I feel like she is sitting across from me in my living room, intently listening to my feelings (not my thoughts – my feelings), and then putting them on paper in a way that is exactly right, exactly as I would say it if only I had her genius.
She writes about the colors, the landscape, the animals, the people of the geography that speaks to her (and to me), and she uses the natural world as a lens through which she tries to make sense of … well… life.
And I realize that when I am repeatedly drawn to the wild landscapes of Montana and the southwest, I’m doing the same thing: using the natural world to put some sort of order on my world.
And I read and re-read Ivan Doig, not simply because he gets what it means to love a landscape – especially Montana – but because his characters bring to life the exhilaration, and angst, and wonder that an attachment to the land can bring. The stories of young Ivan in This House of Sky, or Jick McAskill in English Creek, or his father Angus in Dancing at the Rascal Fair clarify for me why this particular land – and its people – speaks to me. Just like Ellen Meloy, Ivan Doig sees what’s inside of me, and puts it on paper so that I (and yes, it feels like he’s writing just for me!) can make sense of my world.
Of course, there are many others whose writing feels like home to me: Wallace Stegner, Edward Abbey, Jim Harrison, Barbara Kingsolver, Terry Tempest Williams, Rick Bass…the list goes on and on. But if I had to pick two, I’d pick Meloy and Doig. And if I had to pick one…I couldn’t.
What about you? Whose writing feels like home for you?