Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Land of Little Rain- by American writer Mary Hunter Austin

Free US/UK Kindle Classic
The Land of Little Rain is a 1903 book of essays by American writer Mary Hunter Austin.  (US Edition)  (UK Edition)  She was an early writer about the natural beauty of the West.  Amazon reader reviews vary from "better than John Muir" to "boring," so I guess, as is really always the case, you have to decide for yourself.

She writes about Indians, the West, the desert, nature and natural beauty.

"The road to Jimville is the happy hunting ground of old stage-coaches bought up from superseded routes the West over, rocking, lumbering, wide vehicles far gone in the odor of romance, coaches that Vasquez has held up, from whose high seats express messengers have shot or been shot as their luck held. This is to comfort you when the driver stops to rummage for wire to mend a failing bolt. There is enough of this sort of thing to quite prepare you to believe what the driver insists, namely, that all that country and Jimville are held together by wire."

She is writing about a world long gone, while she herself is from a world we no longer know.

This is a passage more to the nature we think about today and she writes here in a contemporary style I think, though of course this type of observation was not common to the time.

"Probably we never fully credit the interdependence of wild creatures, and their cognizance of the affairs of their own kind. When the five coyotes that range the Tejon from Pasteria to Tunawai planned a relay race to bring down an antelope strayed from the band, beside myself to watch, an eagle swung down from Mt. Pinos, buzzards materialized out of invisible ether, and hawks came trooping like small boys to a street fight. Rabbits sat up in the chaparral and cocked their ears, feeling themselves quite safe for the once as the hunt swung near them. Nothing happens in the deep wood that the blue jays are not all agog to tell. The hawk follows the badger, the coyote the carrion crow, and from their aerial stations the buzzards watch each other. What would be worth knowing is how much of their neighbor's affairs the new generations learn for themselves, and how much they are taught of their elders."

Oh, I am going to toss this in for free and trust me - you are going to thank me later.  A campoodie is an American Indian village.

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