In the memoir writing class, one of the assignments was to write a letter to someone (it could be a relative, former lover, favorite author or musician). I decided to write Edward Abbey who died on March 14, 1989. At the time, I was living in Virginia City, Nevada, getting ready to head back to Pittsburgh to finish school. Here's my letter:
I wish I could have enticed you to come to Virginia City where I could have treated you to a few beers in the Union Brewery. We could have sat around the woodstove in the back, staying warm as the cold wind blew across the Nevada desert. I’m sure you’d kept your eye on Judy as she danced around serving drinks while we swapped stories of rivers and trails. Or, if you were up for the cold (as I know you tended to like the lower desert), we could have trekked on skis down the old railroad grade and warmed ourselves with a fire of sagebrush and pinion while watching stars and speaking of lost lovers and endangered wilderness. Sadly, at the time I became acquainted with your writings, you were dying.
The first book of yours that I read was The Monkey Wrench Gang. I am surprised that no one has yet made it into a movie, but perhaps anarchy doesn't sell. Reading of the plot Hayduke, Seldom-Seen Smith and the rest hatched to blow up the Glen Canyon dam and restore the Colorado River to its natural course struck close to home. I was reminded of times in college spent on the Haw River in North Carolina and discussions around campfires and at bridgeheads how we might blow up the B. Everett Jordan dam. Both dams, one in the East and one in the West, wiped out some wild whitewater and rugged landscape. But Ed, things have changed since those carefree days when such discussions could be held without fear of arrest. Some right-wingers used your recipe to blow up a government building in Oklahoma and with the ever-present threat of terrorism from the Islamic extremists, our government can't be too cautious and don't take kindly to such conversations. Yes, we are less free now than when you checked out.
|Sage in Nevada, Winter 88-89|
Ed, thank you for leaving behind stories that express your love of life and all things wild. Thank you for encouraging your readers to stand in awe of creation and to realize that once a wild place is lost, there will be no returning to its former glory. Thank you for reminding us of the freedom of the journey and that we should savor every moment. Thank you, for by sharing your dreams, we, too, can dream.