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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Language of Landscape

Air Date: Week of

"Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape," edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney. (Courtesy of Trinity University Press)

Learn the meaning of the term “blind creek” from Barry Lopez, who edited the essay collection: “Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape”.


CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood. Baboons are making themselves at home—in homes in the suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa. I’ll take you there in just a minute. But first, a visit to a little piece of our own country.

[MUSIC Daniel Lanois “O Marie” from ‘Arcadie’ (Daniellanois.com - 2005)]

CURWOOD: How well do we really know this place we call home? Forty-five American writers are helping us get to know it a little better in a new book called “Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape.” It’s basically a dictionary of hundreds of unique and unusual features of the vast American countryside. We invited some of the contributors to Home Ground to share definitions with us. And this week it’s Barry Lopez, with his definition of “Blind Creek.”

Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney.(Courtesy of Trinity University Press)

LOPEZ: Blind Creek. To most eyes a dry creek is a place where a creek once flowed and after a rain will likely flow again. Such a waterway is an ephemeral creek, technically. But by another way of seeing some such creeks never entirely disappear. A ghost, if you will, holds the creek’s place, moving slowly in darkness below the dry sun-baked surface. In the mind of a local resident finely attuned to such things you’ve come upon the invisible but real when you stand above a blind creek. Dig and the water will come to light like the blind floor revealed when the carpenter’s floor is taken up.


CURWOOD: Barry Lopez is the editor along with Debra Gwartney of “Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape.” We’ll bring you more places from Home Ground in the weeks ahead.

[MUSIC: Amon Tobin “Kitchen Sink” from ‘Foley Room’ (Ninja Tune – 2007)]



Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape


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