It’s an exacting map. In a drawn-out patience, scattered with landmarks, nature writing nods to the landscape that produced it. I sit in a bright, clinical room, but my attention inclines towards mountains and pastures. Can I, sitting here, become somewhere else? Can I become something else?
I used to believe that nature writing missed the “point” of nature entirely. Go on a hike, I thought. Do not waste time. But now, I think differently: if language is a territory we occupy, why not give it a topography in both content and structure?
I read, now, of Grass Mountain (part of the Big Belts, opposed to the Castle Mountains, near the Smith River). These are places I have never been to. I have no plans to visit. But here I sit, with a map open, imagining its “generous pasture.” I notice of all the other things I could be thinking about. My mind returns to this expanse, unfurnished. Allow this strange attention to unfold, to settle into something tranquil and ancient.