In April of 2000, environmental activist Mike Medberry experienced one of our collective worst nightmares: a massive stroke in the middle of a harsh wilderness area. As his separated companions searched for him, he lay semi conscious and immobile for hours past the time considered the maximum for survival and recovery.
He survived. But the regaining of the ability to speak intelligibly, to walk, and to work was a much longer journey that the helicopter ride that brought him to “civilization” and to medical care, and it spawned this memoir, named for the weirdly beautiful, rugged and long avoided lava field that is named the Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Disappointed that his work towards preserving the area was completed by others, and as he fought for his life and conscious mind, he used the experience to reflect on what the mind is, and what his love of nature meant to his life.
At one point in his recovery, he was asked to read aloud the two-line poem by environmental poet W.S Merwin:
I want to tell what the forests
I will have to speak
in a forgotten language.
The clumsy reading that embarassed and humiliated this former literature major in front of the group must have seared in his mind the fact that words don’t come easily for many, and perhaps never do when describing the natural world and what it means to perserve and protect it.
Farrington Foundation loves books like this, and congratulate Medberry on this fine work about the mind, the environment, and striving for healing and recovery.