The sign of a great book is one that you will carry with you day and night until it is finished. Ellen Meloy wrote just such a book, Eating Stone Imagination and the Loss of the Wild has travelled with me over the last 4 weeks over 10,000 plus miles from Nebraska where I picked it up at a local bookstore to Cameroon and back and every free moment, it was opened and read. Ellen wrote this book about her fascination with Caprini(Wild Sheep) and the lands and places they live and have lived over the last 10,000 years.
Now, Ellen is not a hunter but she does understand that it is hunters who are working hard in the conservation world to protect her beloved wild sheep. She takes us on a journey through a year in her life with her passion for these wild sheep in the South Western deserts and her love for these sheep shines through in every page of her writing. The book is not all 100% about sheep, sometimes it is delves into the world they live in, the history of the area these sheep are in, her trips with her husband Mark to Mexico, the Sierra Nevadas and other locations hiking and looking for sheep and the thoughts that cross her mind while she sits on hot rocks and scouts for wild sheep.
Ellen writes, “Shall we be honest about this? The mind needs wild animals. The body needs the trek that takes it looking for them.” These kinds of quotes fill this book and leave the reader continueing right along this journey with Ellen craving more, craving the canyons, the boojums, the cactus, the heat, the rain and most of all the sheep. Eating Stone leaves you wanting to get out and trek among the canyon walls craining your neck to get a glimpse of the big horns of the rams and the muscled bodies of the sheep.
I will be buying this book for others and this copy will be going out to be read by others who share the passions of the wild, Eating Stone is a book that I am excited to share with others. Eating Stone was written in 2005 and I only wish that I had found it sooner. Find a copy and make it a part of your collection or read it and share it with others who need to be reminded about wild places, wild sheep and what it means to be a conservationist.