"Querencia, the ancient word...identifies our 'inclination to return to a site' where soul and soil are connected, where the affection or longing we might have for a favorite place of reciprocity and responsibility toward the land make it home, give it anchor," writes Rae Marie Taylor of her own querencia journey in this collection of essays The Land: Our Gift and Wild Hope.
When Taylor feels herself drawn back to the Rocky Mountain/Rio Grande corridor of her childhood while in the midst of a rich professional life in academia in Quebec, Canada, she takes a leap of faith and leaves her life and the verdant landscapes of Quebec. She returns to the American Southwest to rediscover the sources of these treasured memories and to discover for herself new ways of being that threaten all she holds dear. The Land: Our Gift and Wild Hope reflects Taylor's intimate journey of memory, reflection, fear, and hope in a land where breath-stopping beauty of landscape and culture walk uncomfortably beside new land development and materialism.
Taylor expresses a loss in understanding of inherent aspects of the soul of the Southwest:
"A here, a where in the land, is always somewhere, never empty--not just property but a land alive with its winds, ice, and rains; its deer, geese, and lichen; its peoples' movement and settling in rapport with them; an inhabited land that makes us who we are. Unaware of this, insensitive to the meaningful ways and goings of animals and humans already in place, the impetus to buy and spend millions, an insatiable appetite, can take over."
In her commitment to give voice to the threatened land, cultures, beauty, and wildlife, Taylor discovers that when she returns, she doesn't shy away from addressing those difficult dynamics that can erode a sense of place.
Through her journey of querencia, Taylor explores the shadow and the sun of the Southwest, this land she holds dear, and in doing so, shines new light of hope over all.
by Dawn Wink for Story Circle Book Reviews reviewing books by, for, and about women
I really enjoyed this wonderful heart felt book. It is so well researched. It is an enjoyable read. I was thrilled to learn that it was recently chosen as a 2013 FINALIST for the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards! The author was presented at the Quivira Conference on Inspiring Adaptation held 13-15 November 2013 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Land: Our Gift and Wild Hope is a must read for everyone interested in building economical and ecological renewal on this good planet of ours. I just had to get another copy!
Growing up as I did in the city surrounded by concrete, glass, and high-rise structures, one doesn't make the guttural connection with the earth and the land that Rae Taylor speaks about in her book The Land: Our Gift and Wild Hope. Rae's essays are a reminder to native, south-westerners who care about, support, and remember their heritage as well as a wake-up call to the rest of us; especially to new arrivals who have and are adopting the southwest as theirs often for more social and hip reasons.
Images of and expressions relating to the American southwest take on new meanings after reading what this land meant and once was, and what is gradually happening as modernization takes over.
Rae Taylor's style of writing artfully and powerfully weaves together anecdotes, an abundance of history, and beautiful descriptions of people who caress the dream of living in harmony with the sculpture of the land and what it offers, and not in sculpting the land to man's desires. This book is a great read for anyone interested in gaining understanding towards balance between mankind, modern advancements and The Land.
WOW!!! was my reaction to this book of essays exploring threats to the West's wildlife and people, their homes and cultures.
Rae Taylor grew up in Denver and spent a great deal of time in Colorado's mountains as well as in the Santa Fe area. However, she has lived most of her adult life in Quebec, and uses these contrasting environments to great effect in The Land: Our Gift and Wild Hope. I found her writing to be lyrical and evocative. Rae has a great ability to put her reader into a place---something that has caused me to evaluate the relationship between people and their place in new ways when listening to a story on the radio or reading one. The book challenges our thinking, and hopefully will our actions, as we grapple with this place we call "the West" in the 21st century.
What a perceptive take on the changes to our land in the last 30 years! The author's love for the southwest and her poignant stories of her childhood (and adult) memories in Colorado and New Mexico are beautifully written and stir memories in all who have experienced the land of this area. This is a book I will reread many times and give as a gift to many friends!