The Land: Our Gift and Wild Hope
by Rae Marie Taylor

Bright Shores Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-973-39622-5.
Reviewed by Dawn Wink
Posted on 11/04/2013

Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment

"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.

Poet and essayist Rae Marie Taylor migrates between Quebec's wooded landscape and the high, dry Rocky Mountain/Rio Grande corridor of her youth. Performing on stage or writing on the page, she bears witness to the beauty and the complex interactions of habitat and culture. Vitally concerned about the impact of development on land and water, she bears witness in her book of essays, The Land: Our Gift and Wild Hope, to both their devastation and today's resurgent hope for renewal. Visit her website & the book website.

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