This week, America’s national parks celebrated their 100th anniversary, and this summer, Terry Tempest Williams traveled to nine national parks as part of her book tour. Her book, The Hour of Land, is as much a celebration of the parks as a memoir, as a call to save the parks. Here, we have the photo diary of her journey, with photographs from the parks and quotes from The Hour of Land.
Her tour took her to several cities, along with Mount Rainier National Park, Yosemite National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Arches National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and Effigy Mounds National Monument.
“This is a terrain of verbs—break, erode, collapse, slide, slough, slump, fold, burn, smolder, stream, dry, crack, blow, fly, settle, shift, swirl, shake, sing, flow, fall, rise, carry, commence, radiate, reflect, freeze, thaw, melt, accept, change, grow.”
“Again and again, we find this common story of the establishment of our national parks: a handful of people who fall in love with a place, see it threatened, want to protect it for the future, and have the passion and patience to attract the necessary funding and political clout to make it happen.”
“To this day, my spiritual life is found inside the heart of the wild. I do not fear it, I court it. When I am away, I anticipate my return, needing to touch stone, rock, water, the trunks of trees, the sway of grasses, the barbs of a feather, the fur left behind by a shedding bison.”
“At the rate I was walking, stopping every few feet to look at a bird, a leaf, or an acorn, whether I would ever get to my destination was questionable. It was a six-mile meditation. There was no one else on the road. Up ahead, an orange pine needle hung twirling in the breeze—suspended from a high branch extended over the road from a single strand of spider’s silk. The air was crisp, saturated with the scent of pine. All things were primary—red maples, yellow birch, and the sky, cerulean blue.”
“I believe necessity drives us to improvisation where improbable and sustaining gestures create moments of grace that take care of us. We continue to evolve and transform who we are in relationship to where we are. We do not live in isolation from the physical world around us. Nature beckons our response. It is in the doing, the being, the becoming that meaning is made. What becomes sacred is the act itself—not what remains. Something inexplicable is set into motion.”
Terry Tempest Williams is the award-winning author of fourteen books, including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, and When Women Were Birds. Her work has been widely anthologized around the world. She divides her time between Castle Valley, Utah, and Moose, Wyoming.