Adaptation is the source and story of a species’ survival. Human beings’ journey across and habitation of the earth’s surfaces demanded resilience to change. As a result each race is a product of the land in which they inhabited. We have grown with the land. Our physical traits tie us to a particular region, a particular place, but what of our emotions? Are they another link to our homelands or do they orphan us, forcing us to seek refuge? Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge, is the story of her adaptation to change, her struggle to weather changes. The emotional maturity of her relationship with the Great Salt Lake is a subset of her wider community’s relationship to their homeland. This emotional separation from the land is characteristic of modern societies, not the archaic ones. For a Native American tribe like the Sevier-Fremont, the land is ---. In order to successful adapt to the changes in her life, Williams combines the present day idea of ownership of the land with the Sevier-Fremont people’s example of reaction to changes in the land to form the skills necessary for her survival.
In 1982 the Great Salt Lake had begun to rise once more and Williams’ mother’s cancer had returned. As naturalist-in-residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History, she was interested in the effect this rise in the lake would have on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge as well as the measures implemented by the state to control this unprecedented rise. The Great Salt Lake preserved many of Williams’ childhood memories in its briny waters. Its rising waters threatened to destroy everything that had grown from it and depended on its stability. Williams believed that left on its own the lake would right itself. ...
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...d and selflessly relinquishes her mother to death. She comes to realize the cycles involved in life and enters a new relationship with her mother and the Great Basin. Her mother although she’s dead is always with her and the Great Basin has now become her home. In an act of civil disobedience Williams goes to protest at a testing site armed with her pen and paper. Wlliams shows her understanding of the natural cycle of death by leaving an injured bird she could have saved to be with her dying mother.
Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge is an illustration of human beings deteriorated relationship with nature. Nature is no longer our life source but something for us to own and control. Although we might recognize its life giving potential we do not see it as part of ourselves in that whether we were molded from its clay or evolved from bacteria. We grew from the earth.
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