• Two Trails to the Rainbow

    Excerpt from The Hundredth Meridian It was in the spring of 1925 that a young Easterner named Clyde Kluckhohn, on sabbatical from Princeton to spend a year working on a cattle ranch near Ramah, New Mexico, first learned from a Zuñi Indian of the natural phenomenon called Nonne-zoche Not-se-lid (meaning Rainbow of Stone), standing at… Read More

  • The Machine in the Desert

    Excerpt from The Hundredth Meridian How many years since I became acquainted with Moab, Utah? More than I’d realized, apparently. When I first saw the place, a room at the Canyonlands Motel cost $19.95 per night, I recall, and you could get breakfast at the motel’s cafeteria, pleasantly located in the shade of a hoary… Read More

  • Two Deserts

    Excerpt from The Hundredth Meridian Nineteen ninety-one was Operation Desert Storm. In 2003 it’s Operation Shock and Awe-or was it Awe and Terror, or Shlock and Glock? We make progress backwards, as befits the new millenium. Twelve years ago, the Pentagon managed at least to get the desert into it. The Mesopotamian Desert, as the… Read More

  • How The West Was Won – Again

    Excerpt from The Hundredth Meridian Richard Weaver, in his discussion of forms and the concept of the formal in Ideas Have Consequences, has this to say about the custom and culture of the American frontier: The American frontiersman was a type who emancipated himself from culture by abandoning the settled institutions of the seaboard and the… Read More

  • A Journey to the Bottom of the World

    Excerpt from The Hundredth Meridian The plane took off to the east out of Denver, banked steeply right, and came round on a southwest heading: over Pike’s Peak, the Sangre de Christo Mountains, and the Great Sand Dunes National Monument; across the San Luis Valley, the upper Rio Grande, and the San Juan Mountains; over… Read More

  • The Mysterious Mountain

    Excerpt from The Hundredth Meridian The wind that had risen directly after sunset blew hard down-canyon, filling the rocky bowl where camp was fixed with a sound like rushing water, scouring the open fire pit, and sending red sparks in sheets among the dry cacti and bushes. Between gusts, the coals in the bottom of… Read More

  • Green Hills of Grayest Sand

    Excerpt from The Hundredth Meridian Old Jules is more than the title of a book by Mari Sandoz, it is the name of one of the monsters of American letters: the Simon Legree of the pioneer household who, married four times, drove one wife to the insane asylum and struck the fourth in the face with… Read More

  • The Phantom Horse

    Excerpt from The Hundredth Meridian “What does ‘AQHA 1990 gelding, bred Actual Spark’ mean”? “It means someone has a neutered ten-year-old American quarterhorse, sired by Actual Spark, for sale. Why?” Rhonda looked up from the Casper Star-Tribune she held spread in her lap. “I want to buy a horse.” “What sense does that make? You’re moving back… Read More

  • A Sinner in Paradise

    Excerpt from The Hundredth Meridian White sky, white snow. In the foreground a fenceline: three strands of barbed-wire stretched taut between crooked posts cut from a juniper forest growing along the sandstone hogback, the bottom strand running in and out of low drifts of scalloped snow. The brushy tips of sagebrush vibrating on a stiff… Read More

  • Friends at a Distance

    Excerpt from The Hundredth Meridian Second only to prostitution, writing is the loneliest profession. Because a writer’s work is wherever he happens to be, he has no real need to be anywhere; because writing is neither a team sport nor a cooperative enterprise, and because the laborious act of composition is notoriously prone to distraction,… Read More