Sunday, January 23, 2011


"Say not 'This is the truth' but 'So it seems to me to be as I now see the things I think I see.' "

ponder that for a moment.

I've been reading a book by John McPhee titled "Rising from the Plains." reducing it to its base components, it's a book about focus, understanding, commitment, and love. widening up a bit, it's a book about a geologist and the formation of our planet. widening the lens once more, it's a book about david love and wyoming, both of which I've fallen in love with.
this is how one can assess the power of a book: I am aching to move to wyoming and immerse myself in that wild and stimulating terrain, and I'm devastated that I will never be able to meet david love.

from the US Geological Survey:
J. David Love was born in 1913 in Wyoming where he grew up on the family ranch. The only time Dave left the state of Wyoming was to get a PhD from Yale University and then to spend four years working for Shell Oil Company in the mid-continent region. He returned to Wyoming in 1942, when he was hired by the USGS Mineral Deposits Branch. After 45 years with the USGS, primarily spent mapping Wyoming, he retired in 1987, but remained with the organization as a scientist emeritus.
One of his continuing interests through his career was the connection between geology and human health, for example, poisonous trace elements like selenium and molybdenum found in some soils. After he discovered uranium in Wyoming, he passed up an opportunity to capitalize financially and chose instead to remain with the USGS as a field geologist.
He received many rewards and honors, including the USGS Meritorious Service Award and the American Geological Institute's very first Legendary Geoscientist Award. John McPhee's book, "Rising From the Plains" (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, 1986), is about Dave and the geology of Wyoming.
Both of Dr. Love's sons became geologists. David Love died in 2002 at the age of 89.

I actually feel that it was a mistake that I never met this man. that it should have happened at some point along the way: he speaks to me from mcphee's book in a powerful way. such as the quote with which I began this post, which love discovered in a book about the German Naval Officer's school in Kiel, which is his interpretation of what is etched above the school's doorway. this quote became dr. love's professional axiom, underlying his commitment to walk wyoming until he knew it.

truth. it's a flighty thing, it's a variable thing, it has six sides and at least that many interpretations. my truth is not necessarily that of anyone else, yet it makes it no less my truth.

what I know today, from my reactions while reading and marinating in mcphee's tale of david love and the wide expanse of land we call wyoming, is that one aspect of my truth involves time spent in wyoming, in the great swath that surrounds the tetons, what love calls the youngest of the rockies.
perhaps this is part of the reason lotoja has called to me all these years, ending as it does in that very spot.
hard to know.
but it's a good thing there are roads around there, and bike paths, because you know I wouldn't want to go there without my erstwhile two-wheeled companion.
and someday, using that incredibly handy tool we call hindsight, I might figure out just what it is about the jackson hole area that beckons me with it's long and persistent finger.

all I know today is that my truth, as I see it given what it is I think I see, includes a pining for a valley and a land not so very far from here. perhaps, one day, I'll go.

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