By Susan Naramore Maher
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Extra resources for Deep Map Country : Literary Cartography of the Great Plains
By 1965 the twenty-eight-year-old author “began to see the prairies as native ground, the land my hometown sat just out of sight of ” (27). Part of their fascination was that “they [did not] demand your attention like mountains and coasts but because they almost defy absorbed attention” (27). One has to intentionally “search out its variation, its colors, its subtleties” (27). One really has to concentrate the mind to make Chase County remembered earth. Later, in middle age, Heat-Moon gives his full attention to Chase County, Kansas, on the central Plains, and the 624 pages of his narrative examine every possible scale of the landscape from the 24 | D E E P M A P P I N G T H E G R E AT P L A I N S visible and invisible, the grand and the small, the native and the invasive, the human and the nonhuman, the finite and the infinite.
Architecture of grass and forb and rock and sky. ”92 A few patterns he understands; many more are unrecognizable, “but there is a pleasant sense of potential” (13). The instinct and ability to retrieve the information of place “would have been a great survival asset in our nomadic antiquity,” Gayton ponders, “and is no doubt coded into our genes” (14). All three writers share this “fine legacy”—to study the patterns, to discern the meanings, of a place (14). At the same time, they also acutely perceive the dangers facing the Plains, accelerated by settlement, commodification, modernity, and indifference.
95 But too few people express a desire to follow this kind of field-based research or even to value it or the landscape of Keith County. 96 All three writers celebrate the people who embrace resettlement, even if this perspective remains overshadowed by extractive industrial farming and ranching. Their science supports the development of sustainable Plains practices, built from the roots up. ”99 Deep mapping, then, supports bioregional resettlement, or what Gayton calls “rebalancing” work: “If we are ever to renew our earth bond, a rebalancing must occur.