Monday, October 28, 2013

Pieces of White Shell by Terry Tempest Williams

Pieces of White Shell.  A Journey to Navajoland by Terry Tempest Williams.

Terry Tempest Williams is a fierce environmentalist and is doing her best to educate readers about the connection between the people, the animals and the land.  Pieces of a White Shell delves into Terry's life as a teacher on the Navajo reservation in Utah and makes connections between Navajo culture, legend and history and Terry's own life and spiritual culture as a Mormon.

"I offer you a sampling of the Navajo voice, of my own voice and the voice of the land that moves us.  We are told a story and then we tell our own.  Each of us harbors a homeland.  The stories that are rooted there push themselves up like native grasses and crack the sidewalk." pg. 8

Pieces of a White Shell begins with Terry working as a collector as she shakes her pouch open on her desk, she wonders what stories the items she has collected tell.  Each item she collected is the name of the chapter and shapes the stories you find there.  Rocks, Sands, Seed, Turquoise, Obsidian, Coral, Pieces of a White Shell, Yucca, Feathers, Coyote Fue, Bone, Deerskin, Wool, the Storyteller and Corn Pollen.

"To tell a story you must travel inward." pg.  129

Beautiful artwork accompanies and illustrates one aspect of each chapter.  There are 13 stories or essays that meld together, told with simplicity and spirituality.  Pieces of White Shell is a testament to the beauty and harmony of the land.  It is full of the old, oral tradition stories of the Navajo people. If you love story and if you love mother earth, you will love this book.

What items do you find in nature and save in a special place?  What stories do they tell?
I collect the feathers in found in my yard and the deer antlers left in spring.  I hold rocks in my pockets and gaze at the them as the reside on my dresser.  We are all collectors of nature and stories.