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“As a child I loved Oregon’s high desert because there was less to see, I thought, but you saw everything there was—stones, bones, weathered wood all naked in the sun…and then the closer you looked, the deeper you went. Let this book take you (perhaps shrunken as I am by life in town) far out to listen with Waterston’s keen intelligence at remote Oregon places. This book accelerates the seeker’s life, offering concise accounts of local character, rutted road, resonant silence, and unfolding mystery. Let Waterston locate you in dry, spare ‘speaking places’ where the waters of the spirit rise—‘to find gold not in the easy of it, but in the hard.’ Reading this fine book, you, too, will be ‘burnt and instructed.’ Like obsidian, emerging into a new understanding of Oregon, the desert, and human pluck, you will be ‘unearthed with the run-off, and sparkle like the bright, black eyes of a newborn.’”

—Kim Stafford, author of The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft


“In this colorful mosaic of essays drawn from her long experience of Oregon’s dry side, Ellen Waterston pictures the region and some of its inhabitants in nimble and passionate prose. Conversant with buckaroos and environmental activists, with spinster ranchers now in their graves and meth cooks taking a short cut to theirs, with boomtown Bend and tiny Paulina and nameless saged and junipered places, she confesses an “amalgamated faith” in the High Desert itself, evoking the harshnesses and bountiful graces of a storied landscape laboring to give birth to its future.”

—John Daniel, author of The Far Corner and Rogue River Journal


“In this remarkable collection of essays, Ellen Waterston conjures the beauty and variety of Central Oregon’s High Desert country... This collection is a treasure like the region’s legendary Blue Bucket Mine.”
—Craig Lesley, author of Burning Fence

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