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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kissed by a Fox



Okay, I confess.  I want this title.  I want this cover.  I covet the complexity of this accomplished work and the gracious wisdom of this accomplished author.  To read Priscilla Stuckey’s memoir KISSED BY A FOX requires patience – it is not for the reader seeking a “fast book” experience.  But if you’re drawn to the slow food movement, which is all about savoring each bite and commitment to environment and community, then you’re the perfect reader for this Counterpoint Press release. 

Priscilla Stuckey elegantly weaves into this memoir the many grasses that make up the fields and open spaces of her life.  Spirituality – as seen through the lens of an arduously gained doctorate in religious studies and feminist theory.  Humanity – as seen through the lens of a woman once ill, adrift and grieving, now firmly rooted to health, love and community.  And Nature – humbly seen through the lens of a two-legged mammal learning late in life that she is, above all else, a vital member of the animal kingdom as comfortable exploring the creeks and hollows of her unkempt neighborhood as are the wild creatures she now knows to be her friends.

Priscilla Stuckey reaches out to the world, tentatively and naively at the first, but the world reaches back and draws her to it.  A bald eagle.  A red fox.  A baby oriole.  The black and white mottled dog who will become her greatest teacher.  The cat named Brio whose story even Priscilla hesitates to tell.  And in the end, the fertile field of understanding that provides her solace, each animal’s story an integral part of the ecosystem of her life.

At this moment my heart, too, is tied to an ecosystem rich with stories. As I write this, I am struggling to protect the land which holds the bones of the animals who have taught me the greatest lessons in my life.  So I want to draw your attention to the chapter in Kissed by a Fox where Priscilla talks about WATERSHEDS.  The Wyoming Highway Department is proposing re-routing a major highway through my Wyoming ranchland.  It grieves me that those in power do not know this land intimately – the gurgling sound of ephemeral creeks during spring snowmelt, the reckless summer flow of water off her drought-stricken ridge tops, the coyote dens tucked into the sides of her red-eroded arroyos.  The shedding of water – as critical to an ecosystem as are highways to the tourist economy.  Therein lies the rub for me.

“Take a sheet of stiff paper and crumple it into a ball,” Priscilla is told by a young elementary school teacher.  She does so, then looking at the wrinkled paper carefully begins to unfold it on a table.  A miniature landscape emerges—little hills and valleys “rippling across its crinkled surface.”  She colors in forests and hills and the little house where she might live, then a neighborhood, a town, a road.  She “makes rain” with a spray bottle, misting the paper.  Water finds its way off the ridges and into the valleys.  Her landscape begins to erode.  And, like in the minds of the teacher’s young students, the meaning of RELATIONSHIP dawns.  What we breathe out, the natural world must breathe in. 

Don’t plan on gulping in great lungfuls of KISSED BY A FOX.  Be content with slow, deep thoughtful breaths.  Some books sprint to the finish line but this is the work of a lifetime. 

NOTE: Please read my petition at Change.org, urging the Wyoming Highway Department to slow down its decision making process pending the gathering of more data.

10 comments:

Gail Storey said...

What a sensitive and lovely review of KISSED BY A FOX, Page. You've really portrayed the essence of the book, which deserves a very wide audience indeed.

Page Lambert said...

Thank you, Gail. Yes, it does deserve a wide audience! Sending you warm holiday wishes. Page

Amy Shojai said...

Lovely review, makes me want to read this book. Thanks! Amy Shojai

Julene said...

What a well-crafted, insightful review, Page. You capture the spirit and feel of this wise and beautiful book. Thank you. I will also check out your petition. So sorry you're having to deal with that.

Page Lambert said...

Julene, I am so glad you enjoyed the review. Priscilla has written such a lovely, enduring work. And thank you very much for signing the petition. I'm truly grateful.

Mary Pellerito said...

Another book to add to my bedside table.

Connecting People with Nature, and Writers with Words said...

If your bedside table looks like mine, it's about to topple over! But yes, add KISSED BY A FOX. Priscilla's words will gift you with many hours of enjoyment.

Barbara R. said...

I love the depth of insights in KISSED BY A FOX. I came away truly informed. Stuckey dares to take on the Western cannon, of thought, science, points of view, and show us a broader and tenderer approach. One I know I am hungry for. Thanks for the lovely review, Page!

Connecting People with Nature, and Writers with Words said...

What a nice way to put it, Barbara...depth of insights. Yes, she shows us a broader, tenderer approach. Thank you taking time to post a comment!

Barbara R. said...

Only it's the Western canon, not cannon. Hmm, maybe her next book will haul out heavy artillery!