She fancied herself a desert girl. Born in America’s Sonora wilderness, surrounded by saguaro cactus. She fell in love with earth, not the planet with a capital E, but the rocks, minerals and, clays from which life springs forth. She did not feel the least bit surprised when she discovered her name, Terra, meant “Earth goddess” in an ancient language.
“I’m a Geologist,” she says.
“What does a Geologist do?”
Her golden eyes widen. Inside hollow pupils, a dust storm swirls. I see orange, yellow and lime-green vehicles, large as dinosaurs, clawing, tearing, and removing earth. With each acre stripped bare, the hollow inside her deepens. Leech fields miles long, leave chalky streaks down her soft, fleshy cheeks. Men with sly smiles demand Terra reveal the next vein, lode, and vug. I see she’s felt unhappy and used for a long time.
“They don’t love the earth,” she says through bitter tears.
“What if I told you, you could love the earth again?”
“I’d ask you to show me,” she replies.
I take her north. Past the temperamental Rockies. Beyond the gloom of the Pacific-Northwest to the last bastion of wilderness I know: Prince William Sound, Alaska. Not untouched by man, this place endures the elimination of its glaciers at the hand of climate change. Despite this, the land and sea have preserved their pristine nature. It is here I will show Terra how to love the earth again.