The Half-Light of the Canyon

I’ve written and posted a few times about this book and movie. And the author, Norman Maclean.

Tonight, I pulled the book from the shelf and went to my favorite passages. They are marked.  If I’ve read the book 10 times, I’ve read these passages 50. Many I can recite on demand.

My beloved Mandela is now gone just over 14 months, but she remains very much on my mind. And Paulina, gone 5 years now as of May 1. So I suppose the memories of these things took me to those books and stories that resonate and comfort.

Maybe I’m just missing mountains and wild spaces.

The first time I read ‘The River Runs Through It‘  was sitting in the College Market–I pulled it from the shelf around 10:00 in the evening and read all night, sitting at the counter sipping coffee. I finished just before the sun came up. When Michelle showed up for the early shift, I acted as if I had just gotten there to help her open.

Two years ago, in Missoula, I came across a signed first edition. It was lovely. I held and cherished it, and thumbed through the pages. But not only for the $3,000 price tag, but just because I tend not to attach to material things, I handed it back over to the clerk. Still, there is something in this story that touches me. I read the book again that weekend, in the mornings, between rugby parties, and then on the flight home. It was special to be in that part of the world where the story originated and the author raised.

This scene, from the movie adaptation, is probably my favorite movie scene of all time. I can’t really explain why, but it touches me so deeply, that I always cry when I watch it.

And, as if that’s not weird enough, I also love the ending to ‘Electric Horseman‘. This clip is atrociously bad quality. But it’s the best I could find. I am sure this movie predates the digital era. But I just love those lines:

“Remember, they’re just horses, same as you. Only they ain’t never been broke.
But they ain’t won no championships neither”.

I am shamelessly aware of the romanticism of these works–but I stand by them.

At least while we are captured here, we have time to reflect on such things.  Art can be what we need it to be–and to me that includes words and images that move me.

So, an indulgence of emotion tonight. For no reason at all. But I’ll blame it on the pandemic.


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