The Land of Little Rain

The Land of Little Rain

The Land of Little Rain

The Land of Little Rain

Synopsis

A stunning tribute to the savage beauty of the area known as Death Valley. To most travelers it is a parched, empty territory, unwelcoming and forgiving. In a collection of essays that date back almost a century, naturalist and writer Mary Austin (1868-1934) breathes life into the desert landscape, describing its savage beauty, its plants and animals, and the occasional human visitor.

Excerpt

In many ways, Mary Austin was an "original." As a literary figure, she followed in the footsteps of other naturists, Henry Thoreau, John Burroughs, and John Muir. But she was no solitary like Thoreau, and no woodsman like Muir. Burroughs is closer to her view of the American environment, for he shared her interest in science and the relationship science held to experiencing nature. When Mary Austin did seek solitude, her world was "peopled," not empty. The farm lands near her home in Illinois not only called her attention to the sights and sounds of birds, the patterns of leaves and flowers, and the maze of forest pathways, but they also brought the mystery of forces sustaining all growth as a shelter and sustenance for the human race. The arid regions of the West, too, were not just a panorama of sand, bunchgrass, and wildlife, but an expression of energy to which both people and animals were related.

As early as 1903, when Mary Austin wrote the essays which became The Land of Little Rain, she had discovered the charm and interest of old geological ridges, mesquite-covered ranges, and sky-reaching mesas, lands without human occupancy, but a part of nature's framework. Vast open spaces were neither silent nor barren for her. She recognized an exchange of communication everywhere, and her search was to understand and participate as fully as she could. This reality came to her as a child. She was not quite six years old when she walked through an orchard near her home and came out beside a giant walnut tree that seemed to reach to heaven. Earth, sky, and tree joined into oneness and came alive in the bright light of a summer morning. She felt enclosed by all life and she heard a voice that spoke the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.