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Ursula Le Guin, author and desert lover, dies at 88

On Monday, January 22, 2018, author Ursula LeGuin died at her home in Portland, Oregon.

Le Guin is best known for her widely read and critically acclaimed science fiction novels, including The Left Hand of Darkness and the Earthsea chronicles. In addition to her novels, she was a prolific writer of poetry, short stories, essays, and children’s books.

In Out Here, a book she co-authored with Roger Dorband in 2010, Le Guin shared poems and drawings about Steens Mountain, a landscape she became smitten with after her first visit.

watch

Stewardship Fence Building Timelapse

Stewardship Fence Building Timelapse

fact

Badger

Badger

Badgers are generally nocturnal, but, in remote areas with no human encroachment, they are routinely observed foraging during the day. They prefer open areas with grasslands, which can include parklands, farms, and treeless areas with crumbly soil and a supply of rodent prey.

Badgers are born blind, furred, and helpless. Their eyes open at four to six weeks.

Latin name: Taxidea taxus

fact

What defines Oregon’s high desert?

What defines Oregon’s high desert?

Bounded by the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Blue Mountains to the north, Oregon’s high desert covers approximately 24,000 square miles. Annual rainfall in the high desert varies from 5 to 14 inches. The average elevation is 4,000 feet; at 9,733 feet, the summit of Steens Mountain is the highest point in Oregon’s high desert. The terrain of the high desert was mostly formed by a series of lava flows that occurred between 30 and 10 million years ago.

Sources: The Oregon Encyclopedia; Wikipedia  

Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin speaking at ONDA's Desert Conference in 2015. Photo: Win Goodbody

Le Guin became a member of ONDA in the 1990s, was a steadfast supporter through the decades, and presented at an event ONDA held celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the designation of the Steens Mountain Wilderness.

In spring 2016, she offered the following reflection to ONDA.

Falling in Love with a Desert
From a little packet of family papers in a footlocker, I just learned that my great-grandfather Johnston homesteaded on the Alvord side of Steens Mountain in the 1870s.
Moving the cattle up from California, my grandmother Phebe then age twelve, rode herd. My dear great-aunt Betsy was born there, near Wild Horse Creek Canyon.
But I didn’t know that, the first time we went out to the Steens country, nearly fifty years ago. All I knew as we drove away after one night in Frenchglen was that I was in love, and all I could think was: I have to come back!
One way or another, we’ve been back many times.
Our general purpose in going is just to be there. A morning drive down the Conter Road – a visit to see the dear old awful trailer I lived in when Ki taught workshops at the Field Station – a picnic at Benson Pond – an afternoon watching a buzzard’s great lazy circles over the rimrock, the clouds boiling up over Steens, the slow change of light as the sun goes west … it’s enough to live on for a year.
Sometimes I can write a poem about it.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, March 2016

You can read the poem “High Desert” and see Le Guin’s drawings from Out Here on her website.