Postcard from the Universe

Rockville, Utah, fall dusk

I note by my last post’s date than I’m a tad out of date, or perhaps out of time, in the sense that half a year trundled past and I hardly noticed. I also note mid-June was about the time my life changed–again–and I suppose I’ve spent the intervening seven months grieving the old and accepting the new. As Nando Parrado says, There are rules and realities that will not change to suit your needs” (see the Cannibalism post). Damn.

I’m hoping to be a tad more occasional (does that mean I’ll post more often or less?) with the blog and, to finish, finally, my last post, I include the second fabulous postcard, from Utah State graduate student Tori Edwards, below. What a delightful young woman! I had been talking, if you recall, about postcards from the unknown. About how writing can have influence and meaning beyond what we intend while sitting at our desks in the middle of nowhere and the midst of everything.

“Hi Greer,

“I’m the Utah State grad student who contacted you about an interview for my thesis. I’m getting a better idea of Rockville’s sense of place and of community. What started my research was your statement in Zion Canyon: A Storied Land:

I can only acquaint you with the conversation I’ve been having with this place for the last twenty years or so, and I can only use the language I have, inadequate though it may be. I carry a slight accent. Those from here can tell I’m not, but they can also tell that after all these years, I am now of here” (p. 9).

“I’ve been so intrigued by that statement, “I am now of here.” My research in Rockville has been trying to come up with the answer to the question, What does it mean to be of somewhere? And more specifically, What does it mean to be of Rockville? In reading Wallace Stegner and Terry Tempest Williams, I’ve come to better understand what a sense of place is, and what meaning people attach to living in the desert. Rockville has been a wonderful place to discover sense of place, especially where it’s faced with so many things like traffic and crowds of people moving through to visit Zion. I’ve been intrigued by how Rockville manages to keep its sense of a rural community in the face of such challenges.”

Wow. I’m speechless.

Ya Never Know

Click on the image to reach Stephan’s blog

It always amazes me when something I’ve written sends a postcard home. This week, I found two such postcards rattling about in my empty post box. Writing is an odd craft, done in silence and alone. Once one shepherds a piece out the door, one rarely or more likely, never hears from it again. It’s an amazement then, when words lying flat in a closed book, suddenly, when the spine is cracked, pierce a neuron in another brain far removed in time and space. Somewhere, another mind is sparked, and a new creation leapfrogs into being. I am deeply honored to have even the slightest influence on these new creations.

An excerpt from Stephan Legault’s latest book’s acknowledgements: “I wish to thank Greer Chesher for introducing me both to the ecology of the American Southwest, and to the mystery genre, when I worked for her as a volunteer at Grand Canyon National Park in 1993–94. Greer also read early drafts of my never-to-be-published attempts at fiction and gently pointed out that these stories would benefit from a plot.”

That really cracked me up. I did say that, and Stephan actually took my advice! I read the book though it isn’t available until September (I got to be the Lone Blurber!). And it’s good! It has a complex plot that keeps you turning pages. Be sure to get a copy when it comes out–especially if you like the desert southwest. Here’s my blurb:

In The Slickrock Paradox, the mysterious Southwest is much more than setting; the desert’s fully drawn character holds its own with the book’s compelling personalities and captivating story. The realistic plot makes the book timely—such nefarious undertakings could be, and are, happening  just beyond our knowing. Greer K. Chesher, Author, Heart of the Desert Wild: Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument, winner of the Utah Book Award for Nonfiction

and an excerpt from Steph’s blog about the book:

Countdown to release of The Slickrock Paradox

In a few short months The Slickrock Paradox will be released by TouchWood Editions. Set in the American Southwest, Slickrock tells the story of Silas Pearson, an English professor searching for his missing wife among canyon country’s monuments, grottos, and reefs. Penelope vanished more than three years before while working on a clandestine conservation project to protect what she called “Ed Abbey Country.” She went backpacking near Moab, Utah, and never returned. Now Silas is searching every corner of the great American desert trying to find her. When he discovers a body in a remote corner of Arches National Park he thinks his search is over, but it’s only just begun.

The Slickrock Paradox is the first in a series of novels inspired by the iconic landscape of the Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, and Escalante regions of Utah and Arizona, as well as my life-long love of the hard-boiled writing of Edward Abbey. Black Sun Descending and The Same River Twice will be published in 2014 and 2015.

More on my second postcard in the next post.

Colorado Art Ranch


Another fabulous artist/scientist/creative group: Colorado Art Ranch. I attended their seminar on Food (see photo above and yes Peter, even though I don’t cook) in Cedaredge, Colorado. Fabulous. Their MISSION, should you choose to accept it:

Many of us are looking for ways to understand and address previously unimagined challenges in the world. Colorado Art Ranch believes that the arts, in collaboration with the sciences, can help solve contemporary land and social issues. Our organization strives to nurture the development of literary,   visual, and performing artists who ask difficult questions through their work; stimulate interdisciplinary collaborations that help envision solutions; and build creative capital in rural communities.