Desert Solitaire Review

The book Desert Solitaire was, in my opinion, a terrible book. I find the writing style of the author to be more stuck up and full of himself than it needed to be. But despite this he did bring up a few good points of interest, not on environmental issues but issues involving humans interaction with nature.

The first point that covers this is what he calls his “duty to protect and preserve the lives of all living animals.” This is brought up when he is confronted by a rattle snake hiding right under his front stairs. He decides to not kill the snake but rather to just move him to a different location. This tenderness of heart is shown to have a few breaks through the book. First when he expresses his desire to thrust his walking stick into an ant hill and second when he tries to test his idea of how people hunted before the creation of the bow and arrow by throwing a rock at the head of a rabbit and killing it. He tries to make himself feel better by calling himself a “scientist” and leaves the body for the birds. Which brings me to the question: Why is it that humans show tenderness to some species of animals over others? Why does our view of nature change?

Horned Rattlesnake:

Next is a point he brings up when he is taking the first initial tour of the park he is working in. He comments on the “undeveloped” nature of the surrounding areas and how though it is called undeveloped it is actually quite developed. There are paths leading through the whole park making it easily within walking distance for all of the major attractions and places to sleep. This leads me to ask the question: Is it possible for humans to go into any form of wilderness and leave it a wilderness? All though dirt trails may seem to be a rather low tech and natural way to formulate paths through an area those paths still change the environment and how the wildlife acts.

A huge part of this book has to do with the incredible need for water in the desert and how it seems that the area is devout of life. But he brings up several very good points. The first is that “if we had water here, this country would not be what it is.” Implying further that if there was water in the desert it would rip away that which makes the desert wild. Once there was more water everyone would move in and populate the place. Industry would take over and the wild would no longer be wild. Instead he makes the best comment, in my opinion, in the whole book. He says that there is a balance in the desert. It isn’t that there is too much water, but just enough. That there is a sort of equilibrium that allows life to continue just enough to survive. But why is this? with the geography of the area it is obvious why it is desert, but is it possible that this is earths way of trying to purge itself to start over? Is it possible for the earth to erase everything and try to start off fresh?

This is a website that explain how deserts are made:

The last strong point I feel he brings up is the difference between the working men in the desert and the city busyness men. He is confronted with this observation when he walks into a bar after getting groceries. He describes a scene of many different types of workers, everything from miners and truck drivers  to cowboys and prospectors. Men who spend their entire day working their butts off. And they sit in relaxation enjoying a beer and conversation. He puts this in contrast to city bars where the men are sulking in the chairs watching television and feeling sorry for themselves. He comes to the conclusion that these men do work that makes them happy. Work that takes skill and strength. They have confidence and spend their entire day working alone and welcome a crowded bar with many people to converse with. So my final question: Is it possible that nature or wilderness can alone provide us happiness? These men who spend their whole day outside working in the sun and rain live lives that they are happy with. Was this just from the influence of calm mother nature?

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