Saturday, April 16, 2011
The White Heart of Mojave
I've just finished reading a lovely desert memoir, "The White Heart of Mojave," written by Edna Brush Perkins in 1922. It's the chronicle of a journey she took across Death Valley with her friend Charlotte Hannahs Jordan. These two women of privilege from Cleveland went to California on a vacation with no particular destination in mind. They saw the Mojave Desert from the train and were hooked.
Perkins waxes poetic about virtually everything she sees and feels:
"We walked on and on, full of a strange, terrible happiness...every link with mankind was gone. We stood still listening to the silence. It was immense and all enveloping. No murmur of leaves, nor drip of water, nor buzz of insects broke it. It brooded around us like a live thing. 'Do you hear the universe moving on?' Charlotte whispered."
If you would like to read this book, you're in luck! The entire text and illustrations are available online, click here There are also several later editions available on amazon.com, including one edited by Peter Wild (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001) with bonus material like the photos of Edna Brush Perkins and Julius Meyer reproduced above.