The anthropology of turquoise : meditations on landscape, art, and spirit

by Meloy, Ellen.

Format: Print Book 2002
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction F595.3.M45 2002
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  F595.3.M45 2002
Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home--not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colors. How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you away. How you can fall in love with the light. --Ellen Meloy Neurobiologists say that our sensitivity to color begins when we are infants. For artist-naturalist Ellen Meloy, who has spent most of her life in wild, remote places, an intoxication with light and color--sometimes subliminal, often fierce--has expressed itself as a profound attachment to landscape. It has been rightly said: Color is the first principle of Place. In this luminous mix of memoir, natural history, and eccentric adventure, Meloy uses turquoise--the color and the gem--as a metaphor for a way to make sense of the world from the clues of nature. From the Sierra Nevada, the Mojave Desert, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Bahamas to her home ground on the high plateaus and in the deep canyons of the Southwest, we journey with Meloy through diverse habitats of supersensual light, through places of beauty and places of desecration. With keen vision and sharp wit she introduces us to deserts, canyons, turquoise seas, and ancestral mountains, as well as to comedian plants, psychiatrist mules, and Persians who consider turquoise the equivalent of a bulletproof vest. Meloy describes women held to the desert by sheer gravity, and she mourns the passing of her oldest neighbors, the Navajo "velvet grandmothers" whose attire and aesthetics absorb the vivid palette of their homeland. There is a swim across the Mojave, a harrowing error on a solo trip down a wild river, and a birthday party with wild sheep. Throughout, Meloy invites us to appreciate along with her the environments, creatures, and objects that celebrate what we often take for granted: "our own spirits, the eternity of all things."
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Clear-eyed and forthright, Meloy, a southwestern writer and outdoorswoman who tempers her poetics with a zinging sense of humor, parsed the paradoxes of American desert life in Raven's Exile (1994) and The Last Cheater's Waltz (1999). Here, in a brilliant weave of natural and human history and personal recollection, she simultaneously deepens her perception of the wonders and conflicts of her beloved and threatened home terrain and ventures further afield to tell the many-faceted story of turquoise, "the stone of the desert," revered for centuries by Navajo and Persians alike. Turquoise is also "the color of yearning," Meloy declares, then explains why in piquant tales of turquoise seas, her California childhood, a compelling sojourn on the Yucatan Peninsula, and an unnerving pilgrimage to the ruins of a Bahamian plantation, where her forebears lived with their slaves. Finely crafted, vigorously descriptive, dazzling in its insights into biology and culture, and refreshingly frank in its calm assessment of the "earth damage" we so thoughtlessly commit, Meloy's lithe and dynamic praise song to turquoise celebrates the wisdom of the senses, the tonic of laughter, and the preciousness of life. --Donna Seaman"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Meloy (Raven's Exile: A Season on the Green River) takes the reader through landscapes of pure sensation in these contemplative essays that are part Southwest travelogue, part memoir and part naturalism. Color figures prominently here, especially turquoise, the hue of the signature stone of the region. In one chapter she muses on the history and mystique of the blue-green gem. In another, she reflects whimsically on California's turquoise swimming pools. The Yucat n's turquoise Caribbean coast enthralls her, as does the turquoise sea of the Bahamas. But for Meloy, all colors are captivating, from the red-gold in the spines of a prickly pear glowing in the sun to the clay-red of "waterfalls cascading down lavender and crimson sandstone." Her reactions to the natural world are so intense they border on pain. She finds contact with civilization jarring. In a restaurant her husband seats her near the door so she can "see the night sky and stars and be less likely to shriek with panic and bolt." She needs solitude so she can contemplate the things she considers essential steep-sided canyons and their swift rivers; a basket woven by a Yokuts Indian woman; an ancient rock maze in the Mojave Desert; a pair of placid old mules spending their retirement in a field. Knowledgeable and lyrical, Meloy's meditations should resonate with those who find sustenance in the natural world. Illus. by the author not seen by PW. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Meloy, Ellen -- Travel -- West (U.S.)
Meloy, Ellen.
Natural history -- West (U.S.)
Wilderness areas -- West (U.S.)
Women artists -- West (U.S.) -- Biography.
Women authors, American -- West (U.S.) -- Biography.
Women naturalists -- West (U.S.) -- Biography.
West (U.S.) -- Description and travel.
West (U.S.) -- Biography.
Publisher New York :Pantheon Books,2002
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description x, 324 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
ISBN 0375408851
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