Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild

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Pantheon Books, 2005 - Nature - 330 pages
3 Reviews
An inspired reflection on the bond between wild creatures and the human imagination, told as a chronicle of four seasons with a band of rare desert bighorn sheep.

Among the steep cliffs of Utah’s canyonlands a band of rare desert bighorn sheep simply vanished. Although the word “extinct” was bandied about, their passing seemed to fit the downward spiral of native wildlife in the Southwest that began in the early twentieth century. Remote, isolated, and elusive, this band slipped through the cracks. The bighorns were gone. Then they came back.

We have allowed ourselves few places and scant ways to witness other species in their own world, Ellen Meloy writes, an estrangement that has left us lonely and spiritually hungry. Now, with generous empathy and wry humor, the award-winning author of The Anthropology of Turquoise describes the mystery of the bighorns’ self-rescue. In the role of an “amiable, nosy neighbor,” Meloy matches her seasonal geography to theirs, observing cycles of breeding and birth, predators and death, the exquisite match of animal to place, of blood and bone to a magnificent redrock canyon.

On backcountry hikes, downriver floats, and travels to Mexico, the Great Basin, and the Chihuahuan Desert, Meloy roams the rugged habitat of these intriguing and precarious natives. Throughout, we revel with her in the air, light, and dazzling colors of the high desert. Most of all, we come to understand why she finds that watching wild animals intensely is very much like prayer.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - co_coyote - LibraryThing

If I were talented, and didn't have to work for a living, this is the kind of book I would write. It is my kind of book. Some of these paragraphs are absolute magic. Ellen Meloy has been living in the ... Read full review

Review: Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild

User Review  - Patricia - Goodreads

Watching sheep is no remedy for insomnia. Meloy's poetic style, passionate commitment, and wide-ranging intelligence make this a rich book. It did seem somewhat repetitive at times, but maybe that's more true to life. Read full review


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About the author (2005)

Ellen Meloy, a recipient of a Whiting Foundation Award in 1997, was a native of the West and lived in California, Montana, and Utah. Her previous book, The Anthropology of Turquoise, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Utah Book Award and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Award in the adventure and travel category. She is also the author of Raven’s Exile: A Season on the Green River and The Last Cheater’s Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest. Meloy spent most of her life in wild, remote places; at the time of her sudden death in November 2004 (three months after completing Eating Stone), she and her husband were living in southern Utah.

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