On the Mesa

John Nichols, Author Peregrine Smith Books $7 (193p) ISBN 978-0-87905-220-1
To the average eye, the mesa (in northwestern New Mexico) is a wastelanda sagebrush plain with little appeal. To Nichols, author of The Sterile Cuckoo and environmental activist, it is a place of refuge and renewal, a haven of tranquility in a hectic life. Seasonally, the mesa explodes with growth. The bone-dry stock pond of spring fills during summer rains, gradually receding in fall. Spadefoot toads, clam shrimp and other creatures hasten to complete their life cycles while there is water; birds (including a pair of bald eagles) are abundant. The author gives marvelous descriptions of a flash flood, of thunderstorms circling the mesa (only to drop rain on distant peaks), of brilliant starlit nights. On occasion, his solitude is punctured by surveyors, hunters, military aircraft and one kindred spirit. Nichols sides with a handful of sheepmen who want to improve pasturage, but opposes a faction that proposes to develop this fragile land. His book is a beautifully written appreciation of the wilderness. Photos not seen by PW. (May 15)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1986
Release date: 04/01/1986
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