Books: Talking to the Ground

Talking to the Ground was another book I grabbed on a whim off our local library’s shelves when I was there with my daughters. In the early 1990s, Douglas Preston, his fiancĂ©e, and her nine-year-old daughter embarked on a 400-mile horseback journey through the Navajo desert. They wanted to get closer with nature and with one another.

During the trip they were completely reliant on each other, their own strength, their horses, and the kindness of strangers they encountered along the way. They packed everything they needed on two pack horses, each rode one of their own, and were accompanied by an energetic dog. They searched for water, endured dust storms, and slept under the stars.

I will admit at first I thought the author was out of his mind. He had been on similar journeys before by himself, but now bringing along a child with limited riding experience? There are steep cliffs. Water is scarce. There are scorpions!

The book came out in the late 1990s. I related to nine-year-old Selene (I was nine in 1992, too) who brought a Gameboy and copy of “Matilda” on the trip. It would be interesting to get her account of the trip now as a 38-year-old woman looking back.

Talking to the Ground is rich with Navajo history, and real, boots-on-the-ground journalism. It also is an honest account of a family with a changing dynamic. Selene and her future stepfather become closer during the journey. Overall, it is a touching account of a new family learning about one another through extreme conditions.