In 1987, John Rember returned home to Sawtooth Valley, where he had been brought up. He returned out of a homing instinct: the same forty acres that had sustained his family’s horses had sustained a vision of a place where he belonged in the world, a life where he could get up in the morning, step out the door, and catch dinner from the Salmon River. But to his surprise, he found that what was once familiar was now unfamiliar. Everything might have looked the same to the horses that spring, but to Rember this was no longer home.
In Traplines, Rember recounts his experiences of growing up in a time when the fish were wild in the rivers, horses were brought into the valley each spring from their winter pasture, and electric light still seemed magical. Today those same experiences no longer seem to possess the authenticity they once did. In his journey home, Rember discovers how the West, both as a place in which to live and as a terrain of the imagination, has been transformed. And he wonders whether his recollections of what once was prevent him from understanding his past and appreciating what he found when he returned home. In Traplines, Rember excavates the hidden desires that color memory and shows us how, once revealed, they can allow us to understand anew the stories we tell ourselves.
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|Title of eBook: Traplines|
|Release Date: 07-01-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley
In 1987 I cashed out of the ski resort of Sun Valley, Idaho, and went fifty miles north to my family’s place in Sawtooth Valley to build a house. I did so out of a deep homing instinct—the same forty acres that had sustained our tiny herd of horses every summer for thirty-five years had sustained, for me, a vision of a place where I belonged in the world, where I could get up in the morning, step out the door, and catch dinner from the Salmon River, or simply step out to watch the sunrise light the Sawtooths above their dark foothills. And then, depending on my horoscope in a week-old Idaho Statesman or the shape of the morning’s clouds, I could fix the fences, cut firewood, change the water on the pasture, plant trees, or just fish some more.
It was a vision of a life, I think now, that came from memories of our horses, brought from winter pasture every June, whinnying and bucking around the fence lines, biting into the spring grass, running full-gallop through the shallow water on flooded river islands, home at last. Such memories become metaphors, and in early middle age, such metaphors become calls to action.
So when I found myself in the unexpected financial condition of being able to return home, I did. The house was begun in September 1988 and, owing to good weather all through that fall, was finished in February 1989.
That March I sat at my desk, warm and comfortable, the nearby cold of the Sawtooth Valley spring held harmless by thermopane windows and six inches of fiberglass. If I looked up from my monitor, I could see the cold stone towers of Mount Heyburn, their ragged edges smoothed b