86-126. Print. [In the following essay, Wohlpart examines Williams's treatment of gender in Refuge. She notes that Williams emphasizes the oppositions and the power imbalance that divide men and women while also offering an alternative way of perceiving the world based on her appreciation of birds, which she uses to critique civilization. Wohlpart observes that the analogy Williams draws between women and birds suggests that women and nature have been the primary victims of humanity's destructiveness.] As a work of ecological restoration and the reformation of self, Janisse Ray's Ecology of a Cracker Childhood reinscribes the longleaf pine ecosystem into existence on a metaphorical or textual level. The restoration of the lost forest in turn creates a value system in the autobiographer such that she is able to rewrite her own childhood, insinuating a close intimacy with the natural world around her, including the vanishing longleaf pine forests. Telling the story of the forests and of the self provides a foundation for Ray's identity, a way of being that allows the landscape to presence in its ownness and that reconnects her with the mysterious plenitude, the sacredness of Earth. In The Sunflower Forest, William Jordan explains that sacredness derives from two sources, from an "apprehension of the unity underlying the manifest diversity of creation" and from acts that violate this unity, acts such as hunting or the felling of forests. He suggests that the second type of access to the sacred is the basis for our "ecological engagement with the world," for it recognizes a broader and more complex understanding of community, one that depends on an awareness of the necessary complications of engaging the other and the psychological difficulties that come with this transaction.‘ Ray's work moves through these complexities in order to develop a diverse and resilient community around her, one that can, in turn, move beyond metaphorical restoration and physically restore the lost forests. Jordan concludes: "If environmentalism is to succeed at its central task of providing the basis for a healthy relationship between ourselves and the rest of nature, it must ... confront the difficult, emotionally challenging aspects of such relationships."2 Through the two intertwined narratives that comprise the work, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place also strives to broaden our understanding of community through developing an awareness of our mortality and the otherness that exists between ourselves and the rest of the world, including both humans and the land. According to Charles Mitchell, the stories of Williams's mother's cancer and of the rise of Great Salt Lake are "driven by a need to learn how to live with, and within, change: each searches for a metaphor that will allow one to remain rooted without being buried, broken, or swept away: How can we feel at home on a landscape that is always in flux? How do we belong to something-a family, a place-that refuses to stay put?"3 Specifically, in Refuge Williams must learn to evaluate the nature of the changes that confront her-the loss of her mother from cancer and the loss of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge from the rise of Great Salt Lake-and to reconfigure these changes within her understanding of the self and the sacred. In the process of unfolding the stories of her mother and the lake, the two narratives of the memoir become parallel constructions in a search for acceptance of change and loss. Cheryll Glotfelty charts the correspondence between the rise of the lake and the climaxes of the story's plot; she notes that "with the skill of a fiction writer, Williams has arranged her factual material so that the highest lake levels correspond to turning points and personal transformations in the family narrative."4 The connection between these narratives, the confluence between the rise of her mother's cancer and the rise of Great Salt Lake, allows Williams to explore the histories of two simultaneous and seemingly unnatural events that reveal an interconnectedness of family and place and complicate her understanding of self and community. Although these two external events dominate the narrative, another narrative layer exists that provides a unifying thread in the stories of her mother's cancer and the rise of the lake. At the conclusion of her prologue, Williams suggests what her book is about: "Perhaps, I am telling this story in an attempt to heal myself, to confront what I do not know, to create a path for myself with the idea that ‘memory is the only way home.‘ ... I have been in retreat. This story is my return" (4). As I have explored in chapter 3, the autobiographical act-the remembering of a life and the capturing of that life in the act of storytelling-creates a sense of identity or self through the clarification of the values of the autobiographer, values that then become the basis for activism. Here the creation of identity is described as way of healing and returning home to one's essence. Williams notes: "Volunteers are beginning to reconstruct the marshes just as I am trying to reconstruct my life. I sit on the floor of my study with journals all around me. I open them and feathers fall from their pages, sand cracks their spines, and sprigs of sage pressed between passages of pain heighten my sense of smell-and I remember the country I come from and how it informs my life" (3). Williams here asserts not only that a close connection exists between the two narratives of life and land but, more importantly, that her narrative is one with the sand and feathers and sprigs of sage, that is, that the telling of her story gives voice to the land. Yet her narrative is not one of sentimental harmony, for it engages the limitations of human beings through her encounter with mortality and the pain and loss that come with death and the desecration of the land. Interestingly, one of the more contested aspects of Refuge is the way in which the book is an ecobiography, defined by Cecilia Farr as a text in which "nature becomes an identifying canvas on which to write a self," and indeed the way in which it is a feminist ecobiography.5 For instance, Glotfelty nicely describes the ecocritical nature of Refuge, which, she notes, "expands the boundaries of the nature-writing genre to encompass matters of gender, breaking the ground for natural-history writing to open itself to new methods and concerns." Yet, according to Glotfelty, "there is one boundary that not only remains intact but is actually reinforced: that is the division between the sexes."6 Glotfelty notes that "throughout Refuge Williams highlights, not the similarities, but the differences between men and women, privileging the special bonds that exist among women."‘7 Focusing especially on the concluding chapter of Refuge, Glotfelty asserts that Williams might have invoked gender in order to bridge differences rather than exaggerate them and thus advance rather than undermine an ecofeminist agenda. Other ecofeminist readings of Refuge have complicated this reading. For instance, Karl Zuelke suggests that "because male-dominated systems are responsible for painful environmental depredations that the author feels intensely, the linking of a female-nature linkage against a maleculture linkage arises as a dominant motif, with women and nature linked in ways that sometimes seem essentialist." Yet, he continues, Williams uses an essentialist strategy self-consciously "with the political objective of reimagining the categories of ‘woman’ and ‘nature’ in order to subvert the dominant patriarchal culture's demeaning notions of them." According to Zuelke, Williams's "constructed essentialism" allows her to create an identity based on telling stories that undermines the dominant political structures from within the establishment.‘ Although Williams may use gendered and dualistic thinking only to undermine it in some rhetorical manner, critics generally agree that she reveals the dominant worldview that provides the foundation for the experiences captured in her memoir. One of the ways that she does this is by describing her religious upbringing, which locates all authority in men and relegates women to a subservient, even a silent role. Through expanding the Godhead to include the feminine, connected in the memoir to imagination, intuition, the land, and the female body, Williams seems at once to challenge and to reassert the engendered dualisms embedded in her time. Cassandra Kircher observes: "Throughout Refuge Williams moves randomly back and forth between ... the confrontational, linear dichotomies (which she often problematizes [but which ultimately uphold a dualistic and gendered worldview]) and the circularity of the extended family [which undermines this worldview], not being quite able to let go of the former while she experiments with the latter." As a result, Kircher concludes, the memoir becomes so slippery that "ecofeminists committed to exposing the negative implication of linking women with nature ... may be tempted to dismiss the book."9 Yet I would suggest that one of the great strengths of Williams's Refuge is indeed the way in which it not only reveals the Western worldview-Enframing, our technological horizon of disclosure that relegates all beings, the land and women included, to resource objects for our use and sets up distinct binary oppositions between men and women, culture and nature-but also reveals Williams's own embeddedness, her emplacement within that worldview. Williams does not extract herself from the dualistic and gendered mindset that encompasses and indeed engulfs her during the unfolding of the intertwined narratives of the work; indeed, one of the points of the book is to demonstrate the way in which this worldview determines how we dwell on Earth, how we think and how we act, especially when we are confronted with otherness and mortality and with the desecration of the wild. Yet, as I have suggested, the dual narratives of cancer and the rise of Great Salt Lake are not the only narratives in the text. Significantly, Williams offers both a prologue and an epigraph as a pathway into her work. The epigraph, Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese," reminds us that even in times of despair "the world goes on" and that while we are talking about our despair "the wild geese, high in the clean blue air / are heading home again" (ix). Oliver's poem reminds us that even in the midst of our own personal difficulties, which include pain and death, a grander order continues and everything returns to its place. To access or participate in that order would require a broadening of our relationships and our sense of community-here to include animals such as the geese, the sky and "the sun," "the landscapes," the "prairies and deep trees, / the mountains and the rivers." Moreover, to access the sacred requires not only an awareness of the unity underlying all life, as noted, but also acts that violate this unity. The poem concludes stating that the world is calling, "over and over announcing your place / in the family of things" (ix). The epigraph, then, like the prologue, suggests that beneath the two narratives of despair another journey is occurring, a migration home that returns the narrator to her rightful and forgotten place. This journey, Williams's journey, unfolds during the course of the writing and the reading of Refuge; that is, the story itself, and the telling of the story, is the journey-a telling and a journey that allow Williams to confront what she does not know or understand, including especially the relationship between life and death and the integral nature of mortality in our interaction with the world, creating a pathway through memory, a type of migration that returns her home to her family and her place. On the one hand, the long migration home that unfolds in Williams's Refuge is about establishing an identity, a self, one that may be transitory and rooted in change. Significantly, this journey depends on revealing the technological horizon of disclosure of our culture, a worldview dependent on dualisms and binary oppositions that oppress and silence women and degrade the land. Williams poignantly reveals how all the beings around us, including the land and other human beings, presence for us in only one way, as resource objects to be used. The land is meant for development and the advancement of human society; as such, it should be mined, dammed, and controlled. Likewise, women are the helpmates of men and should be quiet, subservient, and domestic. Williams's journey toward self moves through this worldview, revealing the way in which we are all implicated in the double forgetting, the oblivion of Being, an oblivion that has cut us off from the sacred, the holy, from Earth in its mystery and plenitude. Yet Refuge does more than this. In addition to revealing our horizon of disclosure and the way in which we are all entranced by this worldview, a revealing that is then also implicitly a critique, Williams offers an alternative worldview that she learns through opening herself to the landscape and, specifically, to the voices of birds. Birds teach Williams about reciprocity and interdependence, the relation between life and death, and the circular nature of time and memory. Through this alternative worldview, Williams becomes re/placed, physically placed on the land in a new and different way that in turn leads to a new identity and way of being. She learns to dwell in a more authentic fashion that gives the land a voice, that allows land-language to speak. Significantly, the journey toward self captured in Refuge climaxes with the establishment of a voice that ultimately gives birth to the final chapter of the book, a voice originating in Williams's homeland, embedded in her landscape, both physical and spiritual. Her identity and voice as revealed in the writing of Refuge demonstrate the way in which Williams can dwell in a more authentic way than we typically experience in our time, offering glimpses of the mystery and sacredness of Earth. Williams offers several important markers that reveal her progress in the long migration home that allows her to be re/placed so that she can listen to the stillness of the land and co-respond, to allow land-language to speak. She refers often to patterns and circles as providing a new way of thinking and being, one that challenges our Western linear consciousness, Enframing, our technological horizon of disclosure, one that is, ultimately, a remembered way of thinking and being. She also suggests in the first part of the book that the inner and the outer, the spiritual and the physical, are in opposition, again demonstrating her own embeddedness in a Western worldview; yet during the course of the journey and the establishing of a voice, the narrator works to transcend this dualism and unite the two. But most importantly, Williams describes her relationship with birds as the key to the unfolding of her journey, for it is the birds that teach her about the intimate and perhaps paradoxical relationship between the inner and the outer and provide her with a perception of the changes and patterns existing in the universe, patterns that take us home and provide us with meaning. Birds in Refuge become mentors on Williams's journey, teaching her to accept change, even certain kinds of abnormal and difficult change, as part of a greater pattern. They teach her to reconnect with Earth, with wildness, to remember a forgotten knowledge of intimacy, wholeness, and interrelationship, the sacred reason of Linda Hogan, which depends on and accepts such things as death and dying and ultimately erases the dichotomy between the inner and the outer and allows Williams to live in contradiction. Her journey, then, offers an alternate worldview to the dominant patriarchal-scientific and technological-horizon of disclosure, which constrains us and limits our relationship to the beings surrounding us. "Burrowing Owls," the first chapter in Refuge, opens with a description of Great Salt Lake that introduces the motif of patterns. Williams explains that it is "a terminal lake with no outlet to the sea" (6). She observes that within the context of wide-ranging changes in the lake, there is some order, some pattern: "The water level of Great Salt Lake fluctuates wildly in response to climactic changes. ... If rainfall exceeds the evaporation rate, Great Salt Lake rises. If rainfall drops below the evaporation rate, the lake recedes. Add the enormous volume of stream inflow from the high Wasatch and Uinta Mountains in the east, and one begins to see a portrait of change" (6). Many critics have suggested that adapting to change is a key theme in Williams's work. As already noted, Mitchell's analysis of the intertwined narratives focuses on Williams's "need to learn how to live with, and within, change."‘0 Jeannette Riley argues that the changes confronting Williams threaten her identity: "In an effort to stabilize her self in the face of frightening changes, she turns to the land for inspiration, support, and solace.""11 Significantly, Williams delineates different kinds of change in Refuge-changes that are regular and cyclical, such as the annual rising and falling of Great Salt Lake or the migration of birds, and changes that are abnormal, such as cancer. Jordan asserts that ecological restoration, as an attempt to remember the past, leads to the development of wisdom about time and change. He notes that "by actually doing the work [of ecological restoration], confronting hard, present-day realities, the restorationist escapes sentimentality and nostalgia, and learns to discriminate between changes that are reversible and changes that are not."‘2 This is precisely the dilemma facing Williams; in working to restore the foundation of her life through telling her story, she must learn to evaluate the different types of changes occurring around her. And through this discrimination, Williams learns about herself; Jordan comments that "since the changes a restorationist tries to reverse have usually been brought about by human beings, restoration is a powerful way to explore our own influence on the landscape, and in this way to gain a clearer idea of who, in ecological terms, we are."13 Generally, the changes that occur in the lake are seasonal, and thus they represent a sense of normalcy and provide the foundation for stability. Williams explains that "Great Salt Lake is cyclic. At winter's end, the lake level rises with mountain runoff. By late spring, it begins to decline when the weather becomes hot enough that loss of water by evaporation from the surface is greater than the combined inflow from streams, ground water, and precipitation" (6). What is described during the course of Refuge, however, is beyond the regular, cyclical patterns of the rising and falling of Great Salt Lake. After providing a naturalistic and scientific explanation for the abnormal rise in the lake, she explains that "the rise from September 18, 1982 to June 30, 1983, was 5.1’, the greatest seasonal rise ever recorded" (8). She notes that her "interest lay at 4206’, the level which, according to [her] topographical map, meant the flooding of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge" (8). The lake eventually peaks twice at 4,211.85 feet, well beyond the elevation of the refuge. In many respects, Refuge becomes Williams's attempt to navigate the physical and emotional effects that the flooding has on the bird refuge. While the memoir regularly reinforces a scientific horizon of disclosure through references to measurements of the lake level, Williams learns to engage this abnormal change just as she engages the abnormal change in her mother's body, through listening to and learning from birds, thus insinuating an alternative way of knowing. Immediately after her description of the abnormal rise of the lake, she turns to a description of burrowing owls. She says, "There are those birds you gauge your life by. The burrowing owls five miles from the entrance to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge are mine. Sentries. Each year, they alert me to the regularities of the land. In spring, I find them nesting, in summer they forage with their young, and by winter they abandon the Refuge for a place more comfortable" (8). For Williams, birds represent change, but change as part of a larger pattern. As Refuge progresses, Williams, by encountering, reflecting on, and accepting this type of change, learns to accept all change, even abnormal change. The goal, ultimately, is to learn to see even abnormal change as part of the overall system and to find meaning in it as well. After describing the patterned regularity of the burrowing owls’ seasonal movements, Williams introduces gender issues into her narrative. She and a friend drive to the refuge to see whistling swans. On the way, they discuss gender differences, the way in which men define intimacy through their bodies and thus have developed a dominating attitude toward women and the land. Williams's friend suggests that "many men have forgotten what they are connected to ... Subjugation of women and nature may be a loss of intimacy within themselves" (10). They arrive at the place where the burrowing owls-those birds that Williams gauges her life by-usually reside only to find the land razed and a new building, the Canadian Goose Gun Club, in the place of the owls. She feels as if she is in "unfamiliar country" (11) and then comments, "I knew rage. It was fire in my stomach with no place to go" (12). In Refuge, Williams makes a distinction not only between changes that are cyclical and those that are abnormal, but also between different types of abnormal change. While she learns about adapting to change from witnessing the patterns and cycles embodied in birds, she also learns to differentiate what appears to be an abnormal change in nature, such as the rise of Great Salt Lake, and abnormal changes wrought by humans. Indeed, it is through the exploration of these various manifestations of change that she examines identity, engages issues of gender, and encounters her mother's cancer and the rise of the lake, all of which ultimately leads to establishing a voice. A significant part of Williams's journey with birds as her guide involves reaching an understanding of the paradoxical interrelationship between the inner and the outer, the spiritual and the physical. After describing the displacement of the burrowing owls, Williams provides a bit of her family background, explaining that her family has "deep roots in the American west" (13) and that she has known five of her great-grandparents well. She concludes: "As a people and as a family, we have a sense of history. And our history is tied to land" (14). She continues: "I was raised to believe in a spirit world, that life exists before the earth and will continue to exist afterward, that each human being, bird, and bulrush, along with all other life forms had a spirit life before it came to dwell physically on the earth. Each occupied an assigned sphere of influence, each has a place and a purpose" (14). For Williams, as a result of her religious upbringing, the physical and the spiritual become united in this life on Earth, though the spiritual takes precedence, for it exists before and after physical beings. She states: "It made sense to a child. And if the natural world was assigned spiritual values, then those days spent in wildness were sacred. We learned at an early age that God can be found wherever you are, especially outside" (14). According to her Mormon upbringing, the physical world, the natural world, was also spiritual and thus sacred. Access to wildness, then, provides meaning above and beyond the mere physical encounter with the natural world, beyond perceiving the things that surround her as resource objects for her use. The conclusion of "Burrowing Owls" returns to a discussion of birds and their role in her journey. She describes a childhood birding trip sponsored by the Audubon Society to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge with Mimi, her maternal grandmother. On the trip, they spot ibises, which are, according to Mimi, "companions of gods" (18). The ibis escorts Thoth, the "Egyptian god of wisdom and magic, who is the guardian of the Moon Gates in heaven" (18). The two colors of the ibis, white and black, are associated with birth and death. The length of their stride was used to determine dimensions by the builders of the Egyptian temples. In the middle of this childhood excursion, Williams reflects on her new knowledge: "I sat down by the rear wheels of the bus and pondered the relationship between an ibis at Bear River and an ibis foraging on the banks of the Nile. In my young mind, it had something to do with the magic of birds, how they bridge cultures and continents with their wings, how they mediate between heaven and earth" (18). The ibis, and birds in general, mediate between the physical and the spiritual, Earth and heaven, life and death, providing Williams access to wildness and the sacred, to a worldview other than the technological one dominating her culture and even her own sense of being in the world. As a child, these contradictory associations, the connection between the physical and the spiritual, life and death, were readily accepted and understood, yet as an adult such paradoxical relationships are more difficult to maintain. Because birds also represent regularity, order, and pattern, multiple layers of meaning accrue around birds as the narrative progresses and Williams's journey unfolds. The next chapter, "Whimbrels," reinforces the connection between birds and patterns. She notes: "The Bird Refuge has remained a constant. It is a landscape so familiar to me, there have been times I have felt a species long before I saw it. The long-billed curlews that foraged the grasslands seven miles outside the Refuge were trustworthy. I can count on them year after year" (21). Significantly, the curlews represent constancy within change; they provide a pattern that becomes familiar and trustworthy, grounding Williams and giving her meaning. Suddenly, six whimbrels join the curlews, something new in a familiar landscape: "Whimbrel entered my mind as an idea. Before I saw them mingling with curlews, I recognized them as a new thought in familiar country" (21). Birds thus represent both constancy and change, but not strangeness or unfamiliarity. She states: "The birds and I share a natural history. It is a matter of rootedness, of living inside a place for so long that the mind and imagination fuse" (21). By dwelling in a place, the mind (familiarity) and the imagination (newness) become one, just as being rooted in a landscape allows the inner (the spiritual) and the outer (the physical) to become one. Describing the many birds that migrate to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, she concludes: "It is a fertile community where the hope of each day rides on the backs of migrating birds" (22). At this point, Williams explicitly introduces the idea of migration, the ultimate expression of a pattern within change. The birds that pass through the marshes of Great Salt Lake have allowed her to understand and accept newness and change because they were folded into familiarity and constancy. Most significantly, she then declares about the lake: "I could never have anticipated its rise" (22). The next section of the chapter introduces Williams's mother's cancer, directly connecting the cancer to the rise of the lake. She says, "My mother was aware of a rise on the left side of her abdomen" (22). Connecting the cancer to the theme of change, she notes: "It's strange to feel change coming. It's easy to ignore. An underlying restlessness seems to accompany it like birds flocking before a storm. We go about our business with the usual alacrity, while in the pit of our stomach there is a sense of something tenuous" (24). Unlike the addition of whimbrels to the flock of curlews in the previous chapter, a change that was easily accommodated and even anticipated because it has occurred in a familiar landscape, her mother's cancer does not fit within her conception of her mother's body. Significantly, in order to attempt an understanding of the cancer, she makes a comparison between her unease and birds rising before a storm. Yet she has no place in either her mind or her imagination to put this abnormal change; like the rise of Great Salt Lake, her mother's cancer is an abnormal change that cannot be engaged in a comfortable manner; it cannot be folded into something familiar, a pattern, a rhythm, a migration. After Williams's mother explains why she had waited a full month to tell her family about the cancer, a month that she spent in solitude floating down the Grand Canyon, Williams introduces a key concept in the book, the significance of listening to other voices as they provide her with guidance on her own journey. She says, I know the solitude my mother speaks of. It is what sustains me and protects me from my mind. It renders me fully present. I am desert. I am mountains. I am Great Salt Lake. There are other languages being spoken by wind, water, and wings. There are other lives to consider: avocets, stilts, and stones. Peace is the perspective found in patterns. When I see ring-billed gulls picking on the flesh of decaying carp, I am less afraid of death. We are no more and no less than the life that surrounds us. My fears surface in my isolation. My serenity surfaces in my solitude. (29) Williams suggests most explicitly in this passage that her journey, her quest, is to learn to listen to a forgotten language, the language of "wind, water, and wings," of "avocets, stilts, and stones," and thus to open herself to a worldview other than the linear, scientific, and calculative one dominating our time. This language shows that the narrator perceives the patterns pervading the universe, the cycles of life and death that become one, the intricate and fragile interrelationship joining us all even when-maybe especially when-we enter our solitude and leave behind the noise and distractions of our culture. In the presence of this forgotten knowledge, the inner and the outer, the internal self and the life around us, become one, and we find ourselves at peace. The reference to gulls in this key passage is picked up a few chapters later. In "California Gulls," Williams explores the way in which birds, which represent pattern and repetition, also represent resilience and adaptability. During a visit to the doctor, Williams's mother at first hears that her recovery looks promising. As a result, both Williams and her mother become optimistic, believing that the battle with cancer is over. Yet later in the afternoon, when the pathology report comes in, the doctor explains that she still shows evidence of cancerous cells. Williams then acknowledges: "I was heartsick. I had betrayed her. I felt as though I had killed her with my optimism and I was strapped with guilt. Why couldn't I have respected her belief that the outcome mattered less than the gift of each day. We had wanted everything back to its original shape. We had wanted a cure for Mother for ourselves, so we could get on with our lives. What we had forgotten was that she was living hers. I fled for Bear River, for the birds, wishing someone would rescue me" (68). Williams reveals in this passage her inability as an adult to accept-as she seemed to do so readily as a child, albeit in an abstract manner-the interconnectedness of life and death. Recognizing her inability to accept abnormal change, she flees to the refuge and watches the gulls. "While sitting on the edge of Great Salt Lake, I noticed the gulls flying in one direction. From four o'clock until dusk, with their slow, steady wing beats, they flew southwest. I pocketed this information like a small stone. The next day, I returned and witnessed the same pilgrimage. After all these years of cohabitation, the gulls had finally ... seized my imagination. I had to follow" (70-71). Noticing a repetition in the gulls’ movements from one day to the next, Williams decides she must track them and learn from them. What Williams gleans from opening herself to the gulls allows her to begin to accept abnormal change such as the rise of Great Salt Lake. She sees that gulls embark on a daily pilgrimage from their nests on the islands in the lake to their feeding grounds. The gulls are joined by other colony nesters such as white pelicans, double-crested cormorants, and great blue herons (71). The populations of colony nesters fluctuate with lake levels and human disturbance. Some birds, such as great blue herons, are more sensitive than others and leave at the slightest disturbance. Others, such as gulls, stay and thrive: "The gulls never leave. They just fly around in circles screaming at the intruders" (71). As a result of the rising Great Salt Lake, "gull communities [are] on the rise. Gulls are more resilient to change and less vulnerable than other birds to environmental stresses" (71). In the midst of this abnormal rise of the lake, gulls are thriving and offer Williams the opportunity to learn how to accept this abnormal change. In order to engage this new consciousness, Williams must first relinquish her cultural conditioning, her current way of thinking and being, the technological horizon of disclosure that relegates all beings to objects for our use. She walks into the midst of the gulls and observes: "To wander through a gull colony is disorienting. In the midst of shrieking gulls, you begin to speak, but your voice is silenced. They pull the clouds around you as you walk on eggshells. You quickly realize that you do not belong" (73). Williams's voice is silenced as an initial part of the process of opening herself to another language. She continues: "Hundreds of gulls hovered inches above my head, making their shrill repetitive cries, ‘Halp! Halp! Halp!‘ Several wing tips struck my forehead, a warning that I was too close to their nests. There were so many nests, I didn't know where to step, much less how to behave. Finally, I just stood in one place and watched" (73). Williams experiences a deep sense of disorientation, a loss not only of voice but of self. In response, she abandons her preconceptions, her culturally trained consciousness, and opens herself to a radically new experience. "I wondered in the midst of so many gulls and so many eggs, how the birds could differentiate between them. They do. Parental recognition. The subtle distinctions in patterning and coloration among individual egg clutches test my eye for discrimination. Each brood bears its own coat of arms" (74). In the midst of this chaos, the rising lake's disruption of nesting sites, the cacophony and disorientation of the gulls, Williams encounters meaning in the most subtle of details, the intricate and distinct patterning of egg shells that allows the male and the female gulls to recognize their own eggs. Such a state parallels Heidegger's insistence that the saving grace lies in the "here and now and little things" and recalls Janisse Ray's assertion that meaning exists in every aspect, no matter how small, of the longleaf pine ecosystem. Williams directly connects this lesson to acceptance of her mother's condition: "I love to watch gulls soar over the Great Basin. It is another trick of the lake to lure gulls inland. On days such as this, when my soul has been wrenched, the simplicity of flight and form above the lake untangles my grief. ‘Glide’ the gulls write in the sky-and, for a few brief moments, I do" (75). Her experience with the gulls in this chapter allows Williams to begin to accept change, even abnormal change. At this early stage in her journey, she has not yet begun to differentiate kinds of abnormal change, but her journey through the guidance of birds has been fully engaged. She concludes the chapter "California Gulls" with a reflection on what she has learned and how this lesson will allow her to confront her mother's condition in a more accepting manner. She explains, "I go to the lake for a compass reading, to orient myself once again in the midst of change. Each trip is unique. The lake is different. I am different. But the gulls are always here, ordinary-black, white, and gray" (75). Significantly, her journey to the refuge, even this journey, which involves an experience of dislocation, a loss of self and voice, provides her with a reorientation, a new grounding and foundation for the exploration of the significance of her experience. Only in the loss of self, in the disruption of her current way of being and thinking, can she find herself and be re/placed. She continues: "I have refused to believe that Mother will die. And by denying her cancer, even her death, I deny her life. Denial stops us from listening. I cannot hear what Mother is saying. I can only hear what I want" (75-76). Williams recognizes that she must learn to accept change, even the change that comes with death and dying, for these are important elements in a rich and complex community. Only through such a willingness to accept can she open herself to another voice, another language, one lost and forgotten as a result of her cultural training. She acknowledges that "denial lies. It protects us from the potency of a truth we cannot yet bear to accept. It takes our hands and leads us to places of comfort. Denial flourishes in the familiar. It seduces us with our own desires and cleverly constructs walls around us to keep us safe." She concedes: "I want the walls down. Mother's rage over our inability to face her illness has burned away my defenses. I am left with guilt, guilt I cannot tolerate because it has no courage. I hurt Mother through my own desire to be cured" (76). Rather than engaging difference and change, Williams had remained in sameness, in familiarity, in what is comfortable. In doing so, she had not been open to the other-to her mother, to her mother's cancer, to the larger order and pattern existing in the universe, which includes pain and loss. She concludes this chapter reflecting on birds: "I continue to watch the gulls. Their pilgrimage from salt water to fresh becomes my own" (76). By engaging the changes that she witnesses around her, Williams begins to develop a new way of thinking and being, one less linear and scientific and practical. In the chapter "Pink Flamingos," she encounters what she calls "accidentals," species "that have wandered far from their normal range. They are flukes in a flock of predictable migrants. They are loners in an unfamiliar territory" (88). Pink flamingos represent one such accidental, as do roseate spoonbills and the European wigeon. Williams notes that the manufacture of plastic flamingos, which grace our lawns, suggests that "we have lost the imagination to place them in a dignified world. And when they do grace the landscapes around us, they are considered ‘accidental.‘ We no longer believe in the possibility of such things" (89). Having focused on the unnatural and made it familiar, we have lost touch with the grace and the beauty of the natural, and even of the abnormal in the natural. She reflects at the conclusion of this chapter: How can hope be denied when there is always the possibility of an American flamingo or a roseate spoonbill floating down from the sky like pink rose petals? How can we rely solely on the statistical evidence and percentages that would shackle our lives when red-necked grebes, bar-tailed godwits, and wandering tattlers come into our country? When Emily Dickinson writes, "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul," she reminds us, as the birds do, of the liberation and pragmatism of belief. (90) Up to this point in Refuge, Williams has demonstrated that birds, which represent regularity and pattern, can teach us to accept change. Here she makes it most clear that birds can also teach us to accept abnormal but natural changes. Significantly, she demonstrates that such a lesson depends on loosening ourselves from the shackles of our linear, scientific Western consciousness, that hope and belief arise from listening to different voices. And because of her growing awareness of alternate ways of knowing, Williams begins to differentiate kinds of abnormal change, a key element in the final development of voice and the expression of an alternative worldview. She notes that the loss of wetlands is "one more paradox of Great Salt Lake. The marshes here are disappearing naturally. It's not the harsh winter or yearly spillover that threatens Utah's wetland birds and animals. It is lack of land" (112). Under normal circumstances, with the annual rising or falling of the lake-and even, as we find out later in the book, under abnormal circumstances such as the current rise-the birds adapt, relocate, survive: "In the normal cycle of a rising Great Salt Lake, the birds would simply move up. New habitat would be found. New habitat would be created" (112). The issue, according to Williams, is that this option is no longer available for the birds: "They don't have those options today, as they find themselves flush against freeways and a rapidly expanding airport. ... Refugees" (112). While Williams has begun to work toward accepting abnormal changes, such as the sudden and accidental appearance of a pink flamingo or roseate spoonbill, she also has begun to differentiate abnormal changes that are natural and those that are inflicted by humans. By adopting a new consciousness, one of hope, intuition, and belief, she finds space in her imagination to accept pink rose petals floating down from the sky. But she also learns to look sideways at her culture, which insists on developing and controlling every last inch of land. To further emphasize this point, Williams relates her discussion with her father regarding the West Desert Pumping Project, the approved plan to mitigate the rising lake. Originally, five plans were considered to make certain that Great Salt Lake would not rise above 4,202 feet, as required by Utah state law. The first option, to breach the causeway separating the two halves of the lake, has no real mitigating affect. The other options were deemed too costly or ineffective and so the legislature settled on the pumping project. This attitude most fully reveals a technological view of the world, where the world is to be monitored and controlled for the benefit of humans. Her father explains that the plan is ridiculous; when Terry asks what would happen if the governor did nothing, accepting the rise of the lake as a phenomenon to be adjusted to, her father says that the governor would be impeached (138-39). Yet Williams's family is implicated directly in this worldview, for they bid on and eventually participate in laying pipe for the project. Williams's own embeddedness in a calculative and scientific worldview is revealed here-and it disrupts her journey. She responds to the plan, acknowledging her inability to accept change: "I am not adjusting. I keep dreaming the Refuge back to what I have known: rich, green bulrushes that border the wetlands, herons hidden behind cattails, concentric circles of ducks on ponds. I blow on these images like the last burning embers on a winter's night" (140). Yet Williams's struggle, manifested in her desire to see the refuge whole, reflects more her inability to accept the human response to the rising lake than her ability to accept the abnormal change in the lake. She concludes the chapter, making this point: "There is no one to blame, nothing to fight. No developer with a dream of condominiums. No toxic waste dump that would threaten the birds. Not even a single dam on the Bear River to oppose. Only a simple natural phenomenon: the rise of Great Salt Lake" (140). The next chapter, "Long-billed Curlews," which happens to be the middle of the book and recounts a turning point in Williams's journey toward self and voice, emphasizes the lessons she has learned from birds. She drives to Great Salt Lake, what used to be a fifteen-mile drive but which is now only three miles. It is May, yet it is snowing: "It is one of those curious days when time and season are out of focus, when what you know is hidden behind the weather" (141). The next day, when she returns, she describes the patterned mating dance of western grebes, the ordered process of cliff swallows’ nest building, and notes: "The spinning of phalaropes. The courtship of grebes. The growth of a swallow's nest. Each-a natural history unfolding" (144). She finds the breeding ground of the long-billed curlew and explains that the bill of this bird, shaped like a sliver of new moon, symbolically connects the bird to darkness and destructiveness, but also, paradoxically, to light and the new phase of a planting season. She comments: "Maybe it is not the darkness we fear most, but the silences contained within the darkness. Maybe it is not the absence of the moon that frightens us, but the absence of what we expect to be there. A wedge of long-billed curlews flying in the night punctuates the silences and their unexpected calls remind us the only thing we can expect is change" (146). The moon, which represents connection to cycles, offers a foundation for exploring a new way of being, just as the darkness offers the opportunity to explore the unfamiliar. Like the addition of whimbrels to the flock of curlews early in Refuge, within this pattern of regular cycles something new is bom. Williams sits on a boulder in the midst of the curlews, which are initially disturbed but slowly grow accustomed to her presence: "This too, I found encouraging-that in the face of stressful intrusions, we can eventually settle in" (147). Williams then reflects on the desert and the meaning of this barren place, a lesson that she can engage because of her journey with birds. She observes that it is strange how deserts turn us into believers. I believe in walking in a landscape of mirages, because you learn humility. I believe in living in a land of little water because life is drawn together. And I believe in the gathering of bones as a testament to spirits that have moved on. If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self. There is no place to hide, and so we are found. (148) In the middle of her journey, Williams reflects on key elements of what she has learned: that we should remain humble and open to alternative ways of knowing because our knowledge may not provide a complete or accurate picture of reality; that we should recognize the fragility and interconnectedness of all life; and that life and death, the physical and the spiritual, Earth and heaven are one. This new way of thinking is actually a remembered knowledge that reattaches us to wildness and the sacred and, ultimately, to our self. She continues: "In the severity of a salt desert, I am brought down to my knees by its beauty. My imagination is fired. My heart opens and my skin bums in the passion of these moments. I will have no other gods before me" (148). Her imagination and her heart, allowing the exploration of a new way of thinking and being, explode, and her flesh bums. Returning to birds, she concludes this chapter: "I pray to the birds. I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward. I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day-the invocations and benedictions of Earth. I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen" (149). Williams here describes her relationship to birds as a kind of ceremony that honors Earth and the recurrent and interdependent elements of the natural world. She acknowledges that birds have taught her to listen to a forgotten language, to remember an ancient way of being, one dependent on the cycles of Earth and moon, that has provided a foundation for her identity and for a voice founded on listening, on a corresponding in Heidegger's terms. Immediately following this chapter, the lake level, recorded at the beginning of each chapter, peaks at 4,211.85 feet for the first of two times. In this chapter, titled "Western Tanager," two important events occur that provide the groundwork for Williams's exploration of voice. The first is her mother's acceptance of cancer. When her doctor finds further evidence of cancerous cells and suggests a new round of chemotherapy, Williams's mother decides that she does not want the treatment, explaining: "It feels good to finally be able to embrace my cancer. It's almost like a friend. ... For the first time, I feel like moving with it and not resisting what is ahead. Before, I always knew I had more time, that the disease was outside of myself. This time, I don't feel that way. The cancer is very much a part of me" (156). Accepting this intrusion into her body, she then tells her daughter: "I need you to help me through my death" (156). The second important and parallel event is the official closing of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge offices. The supervisor declares: "We have pretty well abandoned the sixty-five-thousand-acre refuge fourteen miles west of Brigham City, because it is impossible to second-guess the Great Salt Lake" (156). Significantly, after describing both of these occurrences, Williams reengages gender issues. She notes that her mother asks her for a blessing and explains: "In Mormon religion, formal blessings of healing are given by men through the Priesthood of God. Women have no outward authority. But within the secrecy of sisterhood we have always bestowed benisons upon our families" (158). She then lays her hands on her mother's head, "and in the privacy of women, [they] pray" (158). Ignoring cultural tradition and refusing to be relegated to the limited role ascribed by her religion, the two women rebel against a patriarchal system that has silenced their voices. Yet Williams continues to struggle, even after her mother's request to let her go, to accept her impending death. Terry's mother says to her: "You still don't understand, do you?... It doesn't matter how much time I have left. All we have is now. I wish you all could accept that and let go of your projections. Just let me live so I can die" (161). As a child on the Audubon excursion with Mimi, Williams could imaginatively engage the interconnectedness of life and death, yet as an adult she is less able to do so. She wonders: "How can I advocate fighting for life when I am in the tutelage of a woman who is teaching me how to let go?" (165). She then leaves to join an archaeological dig, creating space between herself and her mother. She explains that while on the dig she feels "like a potter trying to shape [her] life with the materials at hand." She continues: "But my creation is internal. My vessel is my body, where I hold a space of healing for those I love. Each day becomes a firing, a further refinement of the potter's process" (168). She recognizes even in the midst of the despair surrounding her that the world goes on and that she is growing and learning. She reflects: "I must also learn to hold a space for myself, to not give everything away" (168). When her mother must suddenly be hospitalized for another operation to remove a blockage, Williams returns home. After a week in the hospital, her mother decides she is finished with the hospital and wants to go home to die. Williams then describes a trip with her husband, Brooke, to Vancouver Island to watch whales in Telegraph Cove. She uses the telling of this story to engage the forgotten language of wildness that she had first encountered with the gulls and to recognize the power of the forgotten voice of women. She explains that whale communities have "a culture maintained by oral traditions. Stories. The experience of an individual whale is valuable to the survival of its community" (175). She then connects this forgotten language of interconnectedness and interrelationship with gender: "I think of my family stories-Mother's in particular-how much I need them now, how much I will need them later. It has been said when an individual dies, whole worlds die with them. The same could be said of each passing whale" (175). Williams asserts here the significance not only of the voice of wildness that reminds us of all our relations but also of the voice of women who hold families and communities together. She recounts a childhood memory with Mimi, who had shown her how to create a lens with her fingers through which she could view the world. She comments: My world was my own creation. It still is. Now if I take this lens and focus on Great Salt Lake, I see waves rolling in one after another: my mother, my grandmother, myself. I am adrift with no anchor to hold me in place. A few months ago, this would have frightened me. Today, it does not. (177) The oncoming repetitive waves represent the regular patterns that exist in the universe, which ground us and provide us with meaning. These waves become, significantly, the women of the family, who offer stability through their connection to the rhythmic patterns of the universe, such as the waxing and waning of the moon. Yet within this regularity, this pattern, Williams is adrift, an experience that she has come to accept, representing her newfound ability to live within the abnormal and the unfamiliar. Williams then concludes the chapter with a passage that most fully and explicitly reveals the central nature of her own journey in this memoir. She comments, "I am slowly, painfully discovering that my refuge is not found in my mother, my grandmother, or even the birds of Bear River. My refuge exists in my capacity to love. If I can learn to love death then I can begin to find refuge in change" (178). While the despair of her mother's condition and the rise of the lake continues unabated, Williams recognizes that her own journey toward identity also continues and is shaped less by these outward occurrences and more by her own internal response to them. Because she had taken refuge, up to this point, in her mother, in her grandmother, in the birds, she was unable to locate or establish a sense of self. Taking refuge in love, and more specifically, in the capacity to accept the interconnectedness of life and death, Earth and heaven, the physical and the spiritual, allows Williams to accept change and opens her to an alternative worldview, not the logic of reason but the logic of the heart. What Williams learns is that her refuge cannot be an escape, a way of avoiding or ignoring reality with its lack of consistency. Rather, refuge becomes a way of being that fully engages the present in order to create memory-for memory is the only way home. The next two chapters reinforce this lesson, connecting it to the motif of patterns. In "Greater Yellowlegs," she describes her exploration of an archaeological site with a friend. The Fremont people, who lived in the desert from 650 to 1250 AD, subsisted on irrigated crops and wild game. They lived in small bands, "closely tied to their immediate environment. They were flexible, adaptive, and diverse" (181). Most importantly, their lives flowed with the everchanging landscape: "The Fremont oscillated with the lake levels. As Great Salt Lake rose, they retreated. As the lake retreated, they were drawn back. Theirs was not a fixed society like ours. They followed the expanding and receding shorelines. It was the ebb and flow of their lives" (183). Williams then contrasts these people, whose lives freely adapted to their changing environment, to her own culture: "They accommodated change where, so often, we are immobilized by it" (183). Williams's discussion of this ancient culture does several things. First, it demonstrates the way in which a human culture in the past was able to exist in ways that flowed with the changes and the patterns of the landscape, even, likely, unusual changes, very much unlike our own culture, which seeks to control these changes. Second, it shows her own incipient ability to comprehend an ancient way of being that contrasts thoroughly with the worldview in which she is embedded and which she moves through during the course of her journey. Last, it opens the door for imagining a connection between women of the present day with those of the past. She explains: "I wonder how, among the Fremont, mothers and daughters shared their world. Did they walk side by side along the lake edge? What stories did they tell while weaving strips of bulrush into baskets? How did daughters bury their mothers and exercise their grief? What were the secret rituals of women? I feel certain they must have been tied to birds" (184). Here Williams puts herself in the place of these ancient people in order to begin to piece together her own response to her current situation, a response driven by her relationship with birds. Indeed, the next chapter returns directly to the role of birds in her journey and specifically to the image of migration. In the chapter "Canada Geese," Williams and her mother visit the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, where the monks are singing the plea "Bring me back home." They go outside and witness autumn turning the cottonwoods golden. Williams notes: "[Mother] was quietly walking with the present. I knew she was tired. I also knew the power of this October afternoon. In another time, this moment would surface and carry me over rugged terrain. It would become one reservoir of strength" (191-92). At this point in her journey, Williams has learned that the pathway home, the pathway through despair and change, is through memory, and she works carefully to create moments that she can carry forward with her and return to. Previously, Williams had expressed an inability to accept change, to accept death as a part of life; now, she has come to a place of peace: "I saw in Mother's face the mature beauty that a woman in her fifties has earned. I also recognized her weight loss not so much as disease, but as a shedding of that which was no longer necessary. She was letting go. So was I" (192). Her mother then states, "Wild geese are my favorite birds. .... They seem to know where they are from and where they are going" (192). Williams's telling of this moment at this point in her journey, with its explicit reverberations of Oliver's poem "Wild Geese" in the epigraph, connects it with the idea of finding her place in the universe, of learning to dwell in such a way that she can give voice to the land. Indeed, at this point in the telling of her journey, a telling that creates self through returning her home, Williams reflects on the significance of migration and the way in which it offers an alternative way of knowing and being. She opens with a scientific explanation, one that fits within a technological horizon of disclosure: "One can think of migration as merely a mechanical movement from point A to point B, and back to point A, explain it in purely physiological terms: in the fall, the photoperiod is lessened, it correlates with a drop in temperature" (192). She then offers a less linear, less scientific description: Alongside the biological facts, could migration be an ancestral memory, an archetype that dreams birds thousands of miles to their homeland? A highly refined intelligence that emerges as intuition, the only true guide in life? Could it be that a family of Canada geese journey south not out of a genetic predisposition, but out of a desire for a shared vision of a species? They travel in flocks as they position themselves in an inverted V formation, the white feathers that separate their black rumps from their tails appear as a crescent moon, reminding them once again that they are participating in another cycle. (192-93) Migration, founded on an ancient knowing, connects birds and even people to the cycles of the universe that sustain us and offer the only true guide in life. Through intuition, not through analysis and scientific explanation, we reconnect to a broader, more primal way of knowing and being, to a sacred reason of Earth and elders. Through memory, an individual memory but more importantly a shared vision of a species, we return home. Williams's telling of her journey has allowed her to remember an ancient way of knowing of wholeness and interconnectedness that unifies life and death, the inner and the outer, Earth and heaven, the physical and the spiritual. Interestingly, the next several chapters, although they mention birds, do not provide descriptions of the way in which birds are connected to patterns or cycles. Williams has learned to accept change and the interconnectedness of life and death; thus this part of her journey with birds as her mentor closes, and a new phase opens in which she helps her mother die. In the chapter "Sanderlings," Williams says, "Death is no longer what I imagined it to be. Death is earthy like birth, like sex, full of smells and sounds and bodily fluids. It is a confluence of evanescence and flesh" (219). Birth and death, the evanescent (the spirit) and the physical (the body) become united. As her mother's condition deteriorates and she becomes delirious, Williams kneels by her side, sobbing; "I tell her how much I love her and how desperately I will miss her, that she has not only given me a reverence for life, but a reverence for death" (226). Williams climbs into bed with her mother, breathing with her, telling her to let go. "There is a crescendo of movement, like walking up a pyramid of light. And it is sexual, the concentration of love, of being fully present. Pure feeling. Pure color. I can feel her spirit rising through the top of her head. Her eyes focus on mine with total joya fullness that transcends words" (231). Williams's father enters the room; his eyes meet the eyes of his wife, they smile, and she dies. Williams explains, "I felt as though I had been midwife to my mother's birth" (231). In this final passage, Williams most fully reveals the way in which she has learned that life and death are one, that the physical and the spiritual, Earth and heaven are not separate. In being midwife to her mother's birth-not her deathWilliams makes it clear how far along the journey to self she has come. Death becomes part of a larger process of ever-evolving cycles. She concludes the chapter "Sanderlings" with a quote from Eric Fromm: "The whole life of the individual is nothing but the process of giving birth to himself; indeed, we should be fully born when we die" (232). At this point in her narrative, she returns to birds. In the next chapter, "Birds-of-Paradise," she finds herself pulling hairs out of her mother's brush, and she suddenly remembers the birds. I quietly open the glass doors, walk across the snow and spread the mesh of my mother's hair over the tips of young cottonwood treesFor the birdsFor their nestsIn the spring. (233) She has a flashback, a memory of a canoeing trip with her husband, Brooke, in Mexico, which she inserts into the telling of her journey. She remembers, Row upon row of flamingos are dancing with the current. It is a ballet. The flamingos closest to shore step confidently, heads down as they filter small molluscs, crustaceans, and algae through their bills before the water is expelled through either side. These are not quiet birds. Behind the feeders, a corps de ballet tiptoes in line, flowing in the opposite direction like a feathered river. They too are nodding their heads, twittering, gliding with the black portion of their bills pointing upward. They move with remarkable syncopation. (236) The dance that the birds enact before her eyes, in perfect rhythm, has created a memory that helps remind her of the patterns and rhythms that guide the universe. Earlier in Refuge, flamingos were "accidentals" associated with abnormal change. Here Williams explains that their Latin name, Phoenicopteridae, derives "from the phoenix, which rose from its ashes to live again" (237). The flamingo, then, represents the unending cycle of life and death, and death giving birth to life. Although gender issues have been a continuous aspect of Williams's journey to this point, they have been overshadowed by her involvement with her mother's cancer and the rise of the lake. Now, with a fully realized self, she most fully engages gender issues, ultimately seeking to provide more balance between men and women and to erase some of the gender inequalities that exist in her culture. In the chapter "Pintails, Mallards, and Teals," with the lake level peaking at 4,211.85 feet for the second time, Williams rewrites Mormon theology to include the feminine. On the day of the General Conference when the Saints gather, she drives past "the cast-iron gates, heading west with the gulls" (240). Earlier in the text, the gulls offered Williams a strong sense of disorientation, allowing her to become dislocated from her cultural upbringing and listen to another voice, a forgotten language of interconnectedness. In the temple, they are singing "Abide with Me, ‘Tis Eventide," and she reflects: "Abide: to wait for; to endure without yielding; to bear patiently; to accept without objection; to remain in a stable or fixed state; to continue in a place. ‘Abide with me,‘ I have sung this song all my life" (240). Up until she embarked on this journey, Williams had remained fixed, abiding by the belief system of her culture. Having learned to accept change, she finds herself in a moment of transformation. With the lake at its highest level, breaking the boundaries of human expectation, Williams leaves the place of her upbringing to encounter the primal wildness of Great Salt Lake. She explains, "Once out at the lake, I am free. Native. Wind and waves are like African drums driving the rhythm home. I am spun, supported, and possessed by the spirit who dwells here. Great Salt Lake is a spiritual magnet that will not let me go. Dogma doesn't hold me. Wildness does. A spiral of emotion" (240). The wind and the waves like African drums, symbolizing the origin, the home of humanity, beat their regular rhythms, freeing her of dogma, engaging her in wildness, connecting her to the spiritual through the physical, in a circular way of knowing and being. In his analysis of "soundscapes" in Refuge, Masami Yuki notes that Williams's memoir "interweaves the process of the narrator learning to listen to her dying mother and the birds at Great Salt Lake, both exemplifying wildness of life that will not be controlled by human intervention."14 Yuki suggests that the sound environment depicted in this passage, with its repetition of sounds and specific words and phrases and its use of certain consonants, represents the lake "at its wildest. It is the wildness of the natural environment that helps make the narrator ‘free’ to reclaim her wild self by starting to question the social, cultural, and religious conventions of the society she belongs to."15 Williams concludes: "Wind and waves. Wind and waves" (240), allowing the rhythms of the universe to enter her language. Shortly after this experience, the General Conference of Saints is adjourned. Having freed herself from dogma, having embodied the primal wildness of a forgotten knowledge, Williams can rewrite Mormon theology to include the feminine. She explains that in the belief system of her culture, "the Holy Trinity is comprised of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We call this the Godhead" (240). She continues: We are far too conciliatory. If we as Mormon women believe in God the Father and in his son, Jesus Christ, it is only logical that a Mother-in-Heaven balances the sacred triangle. I believe the Holy Ghost is female, although she has remained hidden, invisible, deprived of a body, she is the spirit that seeps into our hearts and directs us to the well. The "still, small voice" I was taught to listen to as a child was "the gift of the Holy Ghost." Today I choose to recognize this presence as holy intuition, the gift of the Mother. My prayers no longer bear the "proper" masculine salutation. I include both Father and Mother in Heaven. If we could introduce the Motherbody as a spiritual counterpoint to the Godhead, perhaps our inspiration and devotion would no longer be directed to the stars, but our worship could return to the Earth. (241) In revising Mormon theology, Williams asserts a balance in gender, a coming together of the masculine with the feminine to create a new whole. Significantly, the feminine, which has been erased and silenced, is the voice of the spirit, the quiet inner voice of intuition, which offers the forgotten knowledge of interconnectedness, of our dependence on Earth, as opposed to the voice of intellect. She concludes: "My physical mother is gone. My spiritual mother remains. I am a woman rewriting my genealogy" (241). Such a balanced view of the Godhead within Mormon theology, although it provides a place for the feminine, seems to merely reinscribe women within the dualisms of patriarchal culture. Here the feminine becomes invisible, the intuition, and is connected to Earth. Yet Williams's revision of Mormon theology does more than this, for it opens the door for establishing a voice that will ultimately undermine the binary oppositions of a dualistic worldview. Indeed, Williams suggests that her growth and transformation, which take her beyond this limited mindset, are mirrored in the men of her family. Williams sees a rattlesnake, its head and tail chopped off by a trophy hunter. When she walks on the shore of the lake, she sees several birds that have been randomly shot and left to die. Yet the journey through Williams's mother's death has changed not only her. She explains: My father no longer hunts. Neither do my brothers. "I can no longer participate in the killing," Dad said. "When I see the deer, I see Diane." Hank put his gun down years ago. So did Dan. Steve carries his rifle into the hills, but he has not shot a deer since 1983. "I see the buck in my scope but I can't find a good enough reason to pull the trigger." For the men in my family, their grief has become their compassion. (251) The change in the men's attitude toward animals, and by extension the landscape, represents a wider shift in the belief system guiding her culture from one of control and domination to one of care and compassion. While the governor proudly declares, after the completion of the West Desert Pumping Project, "We've harnessed the lake! ... We are finally in control" (247), Williams and her family, men included, see the whole project as ridiculous. She concludes: "I realize months afterward that my grief is much larger than I could ever have imagined. The headless snake without its rattles, the slaughtered birds, even the pumped lake and the flooded desert, become extensions of my family. Grief dares us to love once more" (252). Here Williams embraces the meaningless death of animals and the futile attempts of humans to control the lake. As she has explained earlier, she recognizes that refuge cannot be an escape; rather, refuge must be a way of being that embraces the present, a love that accepts life and death, joy and despair. She successfully broadens her understanding of community to embrace the psychologically difficult components of our relationship with the land. And with abnormal change. At least abnormal change that derives from natural causes. The last several chapters of Refuge demonstrate Williams's final understanding of the difference between natural abnormal changes, such as the rise of Great Salt Lake to unprecedented levels, and humancaused abnormal changes, such as cancer. This differentiation ultimately provides the foundation for a voice that speaks the land, that becomes a coresponding to the stillness of the land. At the beginning of "Pintails, Mallards, and Teals," Williams comments that "the birds have abandoned the lake" (239). Yet in the very next chapter, after she has offered a new vision of gender balance within her culture, she finds the birds. In "Bitterns," she exclaims: "I found the birds! Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon ... has adopted and absorbed the flocks of Great Salt Lake. Not all of them, of course. But many. Especially the colony-nesters" (253). Like the ancient Fremont people, the birds are able to flow with the natural changes of the landscape. She lists the birds that she sees and says, "It is like coming home" (253). Similarly, in "Great Blue Heron," Williams finds that the heron "has weathered the changes well. Throughout the high water and now its retreat, the true blue heron has stayed home" (266). Earlier, the great blue heron was described as one of the most sensitive of the colony-nesters that would most readily leave a disturbed area. The fact that the heron made it through this disturbance suggests that this abnormal change could be embraced, that through flexibility and adaptability this change can be accommodated within the larger patterns of the universe. Williams reflects on the significance of the heron's steadfastness in the face of this change. She refers to the gnostics and what they have taught her: "For what is inside of you is what is outside of you and the one who fashions you on the outside is the one who shaped the inside of you. And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you, it is visible and it is your garment" (267). She fully grasps the unity of the internal and the external, the way in which the external landscape shapes and reflects our internal landscape and the way in which the internal shapes and reflects the external in an act of expropriative appropriating. She continues: "Refuge is not a place outside myself. Like the lone heron who walks the shores of Great Salt Lake, I am adapting as the world is adapting" (267). The birds’ response to the abnormal rise of Great Salt Lake demonstrates their ability to accept and embrace natural changes in the landscape. Unlike humans who need to control the rise of the lake, the birds manifest an easy confluence with the changing shoreline and thus offer Williams a glimpse of an alternative worldview, one that challenges the technological and scientific worldview separating subject and object, men and women, culture and nature. The different relationships to the landscape, which ultimately assist Williams in discerning the difference between natural and human-caused abnormal changes, can be seen in the two major artworks described in Refuge. The first, called "Metaphor" and described early in the book, is "the work of a European architect who saw the West Desert as ‘a large white canvas with nothing on it.‘ This was his attempt ‘to put something out there to break the monotony’" (127). The art work resembles a phallic symbol, an eighty-threefoot tower topped with enormous spheres. The work reflects our technological horizon of disclosure, our attitude that the landscape is an empty place to be written upon. Williams describes it: "With the light of morning, it cast a shadow across the salt flats like a mushroom cloud" (127), comparing the work to the explosion of an atomic bomb and foreshadowing the conclusion of Refuge. Charles Mitchell concludes that "Metaphor" "represents an evasion of intimate knowledge, a refusal to pay attention to place, a choice to impose an interpretation on that land rather than allowing the land to speak for itself."16 As such, the work provides a counterpoint to the lesson Williams has learned from birds, the dynamic interrelationship of our connection to the land, the way the external and the internal, the physical and the spiritual become one. "Metaphor" imposes meaning on the land, silencing it, indeed erasing it. The second artwork, called "Sun Tunnels" and described at the end of Refuge, represents the very interconnectedness to the land that "Metaphor" denies. Four tunnels, each eighteen feet long and configured in an X, are "aligned with the angles of the rising and the setting of the sun on the days of the solstices around June 21 and December 21. On those days the sun is centered through the tunnels, and is nearly centered for about ten days before and after the solstices" (267). Holes in the roofs of the tunnels cast "a changing pattern of pointed ellipses and circles of light on the bottom half of each tunnel" (268). The artwork neatly summarizes the wisdom that Williams has gained through telling her story. In her journey, she has reflected on many changing patterns, the feeding and mating rituals of birds, the ancient lifestyle of the Fremont people. Through this reflection she has come to accept the rise of Great Salt Lake as part of the larger order and meaning of the universe, an abnormal change that might be embraced. Williams then connects the significance of the artwork to the establishment of voice. "In Nancy Holt's ‘Sun Tunnels,‘ the Great Basin landscape is framed within circles and we remember the shape of our planet, the shape of our eyes, our mouth in song and in prayer. These tunnels breathe as the ellipses expand and contract with the fickle light" (269). The Western, linear view of time has been abandoned for a more primal, circular view, which sees the rise and fall of the lake not as a problem to be controlled but rather as a change to be embraced as part of a larger cycle. She concludes: "The tunnels give import to my voice" (269). In the epigraph of the book, Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese," and later in the book when her mother refers to the geese as her favorite bird, Williams introduces the metaphor of migration, of the long journey to return home. The journey, which becomes the telling of her story in Refuge, provides Williams with a new way of knowing, an understanding of an ancient and forgotten knowledge of interconnectedness and interrelationship, of the unity of dualisms-the inner and the outer, the spiritual and the physical, heaven and Earth. In the penultimate chapter of Refuge, titled "Screech Owls," Williams returns to this metaphor. Mimi, just before she dies, tells Williams that she thinks she is going to see an owl; in response, Williams asks her to send a sign when she dies. Shortly after Mimi dies, Williams sees two screech owls: "‘Dance. Dance. Dance,‘ I hear Mimi say" (272). Williams then inserts a poem from Rainer Maria Rilke: Ah, not to be cut off, not through the slightest partition shut out from the law of the stars. The inner-what is it? if not intensified sky, hurled through with birds and deep with the winds of homecoming. (272) Through Mimi and birds, Williams has learned "the law of the stars" and has come to live a life that connects the inner and the outer worlds. In remembering this lost knowledge and creating this new way of being, Williams has come home. Her relationship with birds and with her grandmother has provided her with a foundation for this journey and for this telling of her story. Beginning with the childhood trip with the Audubon group recounted early in Refuge up to this point in the memoir, Mimi, like birds, has allowed her to establish her identity: "Mimi and I shared a clandestine vision of things. I could afford to dream because she could interpret the story. We spoke through the shorthand of symbols: an egg, an owl. And most of what we shared was secret, much like the migration of birds" (273). With Mimi's death, Williams no longer has someone to secretly share her story with. She concludes: "If I am to survive, I must let my secrets out like white doves held captive too long. I am a woman with wings" (273). Although the rise of Great Salt Lake and the advance of her mother's cancer have been central features in the narrative, ultimately Refuge is about Williams's journey, her return to home and self and, consequently, voice. At this point in the text, the pumps to the West Desert Pumping Project are turned off: "Great Salt Lake is on its own. The flood is over. ... The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is able to breathe once again at lake level 4206.00"‘ (273). Yet Williams still must contend with her mother's death. In the final chapter of Refuge, "Avocets and Stilts," Williams describes a canoeing trip on Half-Moon Bay in Great Salt Lake with her husband. As they rock "up and down, up and down" in the waves, she comments: "The past seven years are with me. Mother and Mimi are present. The relationships continue-something I did not anticipate" (275). Williams inserts in the middle of the description of this trip a memory of her journey to Mexico to participate in the Day of the Dead, an important ceremony honoring the difficult and painful aspects of life and thus one that helps her deal with the otherness inherent in a rich and complex understanding of community. She says: "I needed a ritual, a celebration to move me from death to life" (276). She visits a church where she joins others in remembering their dead: "A wave of emotion crested in me and broke. I wept silently for all I had lost. I reentered my own landscape of grief with perfect recall" (277). The participants share the stories of their dead, stories not unlike her own: "The voices of my Dead came back to me" (278). Later in the evening, she joins the ceremony, wearing an owl mask and dancing in the street. Williams's participation in the Day of the Dead reinforces her understanding of the close interrelationship between life and death and thus provides a foundation for what William Jordan calls an "ecological engagement with the world," one that embraces the challenging aspects of our relation with the other.17 This ceremony, as an act of restoring Williams to herself by moving her through her grief, allows her to move beyond the worldview handed her by Western civilization and to engage an alternate worldview, one symbolized by the owl mask. Williams returns from Mexico with petals from a marigold, her mother's favorite flower, and sprinkles them on Great Salt Lake during her canoeing trip with Brooke. Although the lake has receded and the birds have returned to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge as part of a larger pattern, Williams's mother is gone, dead from cancer. Williams has come to see the abnormal change of the rise of the lake as natural, one that could be embraced in the flow of humans’ relationship with the natural world. Yet her mother's death, although it has taught her about the ongoing flow of life and death, continues to haunt her and indeed ultimately provides her with the foundation for her voice. Just as the human response to the rise of Great Salt Lake, an abnormal change that could be embraced, failed to acknowledge the naturalness of this change, humans have failed to accept and voice the unnatural nature of cancer. Early on in Refuge, Williams engages the language of cancer, which uses metaphors of war, and then asks: "How can we rethink cancer?" (43). She notes that whatever response we choose, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, "we view the tumor as foreign, something outside ourselves. It is, however, our own creation" (44). Significantly, a similar response with similar metaphors is used in conjunction with the rising lake, a response that Williams ultimately comes to understand is unwarranted. She also, however, ultimately rejects her own early attempts to accept and embrace cancer because she learns that its cause is human and hence avoidable. In the epilogue to the book, "The Clan of the One-Breasted Women," Williams recounts to her father a recurring dream of a "flash of light in the night in the desert" (282). Her father explains that this vision was real, that she did see this flash of light, an atomic bomb set off in the desert in the middle of the night: "We pulled over and suddenly, rising from the desert floor, we saw it, clearly, this golden-stemmed cloud, the mushroom. The sky seemed to vibrate with an eerie pink glow. Within a few minutes, a light ash was raining on the car" (283). She concludes: "It was at this moment that I realized the deceit I had been living under" (283). Williams's journey through the telling of the intertwined tales of the rising lake and her mother's cancer, a telling that allowed Williams to establish an identity based on a forgotten way of being, culminates in this moment and gives birth to her voice. She provides historical background on the testing of nuclear weapons in Utah, noting that the testing was halted after lawsuits were filed and won, a decision that was then overturned by the appeals court: "In January 1988, the Supreme Court refused to review the Appeals Court decision. To our court system it does not matter whether the United States government was irresponsible, whether it lied to its citizens, or even that citizens died from the fallout of nuclear testing. What matters is that our government is immune: ‘The King can do no wrong"‘" (285). Williams connects the political landscape to her own cultural landscape: "In Mormon culture, authority is respected, obedience is revered, and independent thinking is not. I was taught as a young girl not to ‘make waves’ or ‘rock the boat"‘" (285). Her mother tells her she should let things go, letting it suffice that she knows how she feels. The unwillingness to question political or religious authority, a silencing of voices, has led to an outrage committed on the land and on women's bodies: "I belong to a Clan of One-Breasted Women. My mother, my grandmothers, and six aunts have all had mastectomies. Seven are dead. The two who survive have just completed rounds of chemotherapy and radiation" (281). Cancer, then, is not something to be embraced or accommodated; it is not an abnormal change that is a part of the larger patterns of the universe. It is wholly human-caused and avoidable. The deceit, then, originates from a worldview that separates man from woman, culture from nature, and that silences, ravages, or ignores one side of the equation. In this concluding chapter, Williams again acknowledges her complicity in the limited worldview that lies at the foundation of her culture. She acknowledges that for many years she has remained silent, accepting obediently the dictates of the patriarchal system that sees the desert, like women's bodies, as an empty canvas to be inscribed: For many years, I have done just that-listened, observed, and quietly formed my own opinions, in a culture that rarely asks questions because it has all the answers. But one by one, I have watched the women in my family die common, heroic deaths. We sat in waiting rooms hoping for good news, but always receiving the bad. I cared for them, bathed their scarred bodies, and kept their secrets.... In the end, I witnessed their last peaceful breaths, becoming a midwife to the rebirth of their souls. The price of obedience has become too high. The fear and inability to question authority that ultimately killed rural communities in Utah during atmospheric testing of atomic weapons is the same fear I saw in my mother's body. Sheep. Dead sheep. The evidence is buried. (285-86) In this passage, in writing this final chapter of her journey, Williams has come home to herself and her voice. By listening to birds, she has come to understand a cyclical way of being, one in tune with the larger patterns of the landscape. She has also come to view the seeming abnormal rise of the lake as a change that could be embraced. Yet her journey has also taught her that the cancer that has claimed the lives of the women in her family is not to be embraced, a recognition demanding that she speak out. In doing so, Williams's own interior world-her emotions, her intuition, her spirit-become one with her exterior world, the world of her writing, her living, her being. She rises above the dualisms of her culture, indeed transcends the technological horizon of disclosure that has limited her identity and sense of self throughout her journey. Because women have not only been silenced but also had their bodies, like the land, used to further a patriarchal and oppressive agenda, Williams recognizes that she must work toward reestablishing the place of women in the political, religious, and cultural landscape. Her revision of Mormon theology to incorporate the Mother body, the voice of intuition, is one step in this direction, though I would suggest that it operates from within the system oppressing her. Such an inclusiveness does not obviate the male perspective but rather supplements it, providing balance. Her recognition of the absence of the feminine leads to her vision in her epilogue: "One night, I dreamed women from all over the world circled a blazing fire in the desert. They spoke of change, how they hold the moon in their bellies and wax and wane with its phases. They mocked the presumption of even-tempered beings and made promises that they would never fear the witch inside themselves. The women danced wildly as sparks broke away from the flames and entered the night sky as stars" (287). Williams's vision of women uniting around a common fire is founded on the need for change but also on the concept of change as pattern-the waxing and waning of the moon-a pattern that connects women to the larger patterns of the universe. The dancing provides the foundation for reclaiming the land and themselves: "The women danced and drummed and sang for weeks, preparing themselves for what was to come. They would reclaim the desert for the sake of their children, for the sake of the land" (287). Just as Williams's journey through the telling of her tale has led to the establishment of her identity, the dancing and drumming leads to the empowerment of women. Significantly, Williams then connects the journey toward identity with the political, noting that the desecration of the land under the dominant patriarchal order has led to infertility and lifelessness. She notes: "The women couldn't bear it any longer. They were mothers. They had suffered labor pains but always under the promise of birth. The red hot pains beneath the desert promised death only, as each bomb became a stillborn. A contract had been made and broken between human beings and the land. A new contract was being drawn by the women, who understood the fate of the earth as their own" (288, emphasis added). The new order that Williams asserts here, though it is conceived by women, is a remembering of an old contract founded on the intimate and fragile interrelationship between humans and the land. Significantly, the new contract necessarily derives from the voice of the oppressed, for they are the ones who have most fully experienced the destitution of our times, the ravaging of the land and of women's bodies. Yet the contract does not reinscribe dualistic thinking, like Williams's earlier revision of Mormon theology, for it is a remembering of an ancient contract between all human beings and the land. Specifically, her vision reacts to the testing of nuclear weapons: "The women closed their eyes. The time had come to protest with the heart, that to deny one's genealogy with the earth was to commit treason against one's soul" (288). The journey toward identity, then, necessarily results in the need to protest, to express the horror and treason of a human culture that disregards the land and, more importantly, to give voice to a new way of thinking and being. Refuge concludes with a description of the women's act of civil disobedience, embodying their protest and manifesting their voice through action. Significantly, Williams demonstrates in this final action an awareness of the difference between the abnormal change of the rising lake, a change that could be embraced, and the abnormal change of cancer derived from exposure to nuclear fallout. More importantly, she associates this final act of discernment with birds. The women, wearing "long streamers of silver plastic around their arms to blow in the breeze," enter the town of Mercury, a "town that forbids pregnant women and children to enter because of radiation risks" (288). She continues: "The women moved through the streets as winged messengers, twirling around each other in slow motion" (288). Recalling Janisse Ray's silence at the end of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, the women here, as winged messengers, do not speak but merely dance through the town, witnesses of the desecration of the land and of human bodies. Eventually, the women are arrested for trespassing on a military site. When Williams is searched, the officer finds "a pen and a pad of paper tucked inside [her] left boot" (290). When asked what they are, Williams responds, "Weapons," and smiles, insinuating the strength and confidence of the voice that she has established. The officials drive the women two hours to the nearest city but stop just short of the town. In the concluding passage of Refuge, Williams circles back to the image of migration that she initiates in her epigraph and prologue: "The officials thought it was a cruel joke to leave us stranded in the desert with no way to get home. What they didn't realize was that we were home, soul-centered and strong, women who recognized the sweet smell of sage as fuel for our spirits" (290). The long migration home, to self and voice, is complete in the telling of this final act of civil disobedience. Having taken up pen and paper, having established a voice founded on the wisdom of the landscape, Williams has returned home. Beginning with early readings of Refuge, Williams has been criticized for propagating an essentialist, gendered view of the world, one founded on dualistic thinking: women versus men, nature versus culture, the spiritual versus the physical. Focusing on the final chapter, Cheryll Glotfelty concludes that the "book's final dream-vision is one of worldwide sisterhood," which comes at the expense of bridging the differences between the sexes.18 Similarly, Elizabeth Dodd concludes that Williams desires to retain an "essentialist, gendered view; indeed, she finds it comforting and returns to similar tropes in later work."19 Yet other readers have suggested that Williams is able to rise above this type of thinking. Karl Zuelke concludes that although Williams's work reveals essentialist thinking, it is used as "a deliberate strategy, a rhetorical stance arising from a specific situation"-what he calls a "constructed essentialism"; ultimately, Williams's essentialism is "a self-conscious rhetorical ploy with the political objective of reimagining the categories of ‘woman’ and ‘nature’ in order to subvert the dominant patriarchal culture's demeaning notions of them."20 Finally, Cassandra Kircher concludes that Williams "problematizes both the female/ nature and male/culture alliances," moving beyond dualistic thinking "to depict a circular notion of family [that] keeps the book from being essentialist."21 Such embattled and contradictory readings arise from a similar approach to Refuge, one that sees the book not as a journey that unfolds in the telling but rather as a linear, static, and unchanging whole. Katherine R. Chandler, in "Whale Song from the Desert," notes that in Refuge Williams "dramatizes the possibility of negotiating conflicting agendas by laying bare the means by which she navigates difficult terrain. Through her writing process, cultural dichotomies like those of objectivity and subjectivity, science and religion, body and spirit begin to disintegrate"; the reader experiences the book as a "dramatizing flux rather than rational, linearly reached conclusions."22 Williams's journey in Refuge-one that unfolds through the telling of the tale, through the remembering of eventsmakes the point that we are all living unnatural lives, filled with materialism and hyperconsumption and nuclear weapons exploding in a flash at night aboveground. The question that Williams asks and explores in recounting the two intertwined narratives that become united in the narrative of the journey toward self and voice is how can we go home? That is, how can we return to ourselves? Cast in yet other terms, the questions are how do we dwell? and how might we dwell in more meaningful ways? Rather than providing a linear narrative that scientifically analyzes these issues, Williams reveals her own struggle with these central questions.23 And in this struggle, Williams embodies, then engages, and ultimately refutes the cultural practices that have denied an identity and a voice to a large sector of reality-most notably women and the land. In situating Refuge within the genre of cancer literature, Tina Richardson concludes that the book "unravels the threads of cultural practice that form our social fabric to reveal the naturalized power structures that ensure social privilege through such determining factors as race, gender, and economic status."24 Williams forces us to question our cultural conditioning, our culturally enforced ways of knowing and being, and ultimately to reject them. Our culture is patriarchal. It has led to the oppression of women and land and the denial of their voice. Refuge shows that we are allincluding Williams herself-embedded and implicated in this power structure. The great strength of the book, though, is that even as it takes us through all of this and shows the narrator's complicity (and thus implies our own), Refuge also offers an alternative way of knowing and being, one that the narrator comes to learn in remembering her journey and specifically in listening to birds. Masami Yuki, in "Narrating the Invisible Landscape," notes that "the birds symbolically criticize civilization, because, whereas people of modem culture have been isolated from the larger synergistic system of life, the birds manage to connect with the synergistic network by virtue of the wildlife refuge, even when it is on the verge of ecological disorder due to the encroaching water of the Great Salt Lake."25 In listening to the birds, Williams models an alternative and engaged way of knowing, one founded not on calculative and scientific thinking but rather on emplacement, on being embedded in a particular context. Although Heidegger would dismiss a consideration of birds as beings capable of mentoring humans on our journey, his philosophy provides a foundation for considering "the human knower as pragmatically engaged in a world of meaningful concern," something paramount to feminist philosophers. According to Patricia Huntington, such an engagement entails "the intensification of one's inherence in existence." For Williams, this intensification means that she cannot escape but rather that she must enjoin the gendered and dualistic worldview of her culture; this is the abyss that must be plumbed in order to remember something deeper, to reconceptualize "human nature as care-custodian for what appears-rather than as the rational animal who lords over the earth."26 Like the paradoxical readings of Refuge, feminist readings of Heidegger's work have grappled with the seeming paradox of Heidegger's claim that Dasein is gender neutral even while recognizing our gendered standing in the world. Because we are thrown into the world in a particular time and place, "being incarnated into sexed bodies is a defining feature of worldly embodiment"; yet our sexuality can take on various meanings "because Dasein transcends gender difference," for it is, ultimately, the site of disclosure. Huntington suggests that this distinction between our embodiment and the gender neutrality of Dasein offers an avenue for transcending our particularity, our "finitude," in order to recover "an authentic relation to one's embodiment." She concludes that "the activity whereby one recovers explicit awareness of being the site of disclosure" is one that "counteracts fallenness into conventional modes of understanding the body and the sexes."27 In Refuge, this activity might be Williams's participation in the Day of the Dead ceremony, a ritual that allows her to understand death as part of a wider journey, a circling of our bodies and our spirits, and thus to authentically engage mortality. The ceremony allows Williams to remember an ancient wisdom, that human beingness is the site of unconcealing, of revealing beings in their ownness. Thus, in Refuge, Williams is both embodied and emplaced as a woman in Mormon culture and, more broadly, in Western civilization, which offers a particular relation to the world around her, construing it as an object to be used, a blank canvas on which to make a mark. Yet, I would argue, she is also embodied and emplaced as a human being who learns to listen to and care for the land. That is, the journey in the book, which reveals Williams's complicity in a culture that entraps her, also creates a new possibility, a remembering that transcends her gender, a recovery of a human relation to our grand and mysterious Earth. In this moment of possibility, a moment that finally unfolds in the performative and ceremonial act of dancing through the sleeping town, Williams remembers that humans have the awesome responsibility to still their will, to let things be, and to witness. Embedded in the technological worldview of our time, Williams reveals in Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place the binary oppositions that frame our relation to the world and condition how we dwell, in turn creating a dualistic thinking that leads to the oppression of women and the degradation, the desacralization of the land. Yet Williams's relationship with birds offers her an alternative worldview, one based on reciprocity and the difficulties of our transactions with others. Learning from the birds, Williams recognizes the need to dwell differently, to change how we interact with the land, to become new beings who listen to the stillness of the land and allow the land to speak in a humble but powerful act of co-responding. But dwelling does not mean remaining passive and accepting the forces that frame our existence. Indeed, because of the double forgetting, the oblivion of Being, confronting us in the modern age, we must enact through ceremony new ways of thinking and being. Dwelling may mean protesting in such a way that land-language speaks, and we have the opportunity to glimpse an alternative worldview. Most importantly, dwelling becomes, in the end, a way of remembering an ancient knowledge, the sacred reason of Linda Hogan, that humans have a contract with the land that, when the contract is honored, opens the land and humans to a dance of reciprocity melding the interior and exterior landscapes, to the expropriative appropriating in Heidegger's terms or the reciprocal appropriation in N. Scott Momaday's words. Williams suggests that women are most able to remember this contract largely because they have most fully and most consciously experienced the abyss, the groundlessness of our contemporary culture, the oblivion of Being. Because of the patriarchal nature of our culture, they know, feel, and live the darkness and destitution of our time. Heidegger suggests that only those who have entered the abyss and engaged the darkness can lead us out of destitution. For him, these are the writers and poets who can offer an honest assessment of our culture and the way in which we have come to accept scientific and calculative reason as the only access to truth or reality; such blindness has led to a double-order forgetting and the loss of our connection to something more primal, to Being. In Refuge, Williams demonstrates that it is women who have most fully experienced the destitution of our time, for women, like the land, have become the object of patriarchal culture's disdain. And thus it is women who remember. In a conversation about midway through Refuge, Williams's friend Wangari Waigwa-Stone explains: "I am Kikuyu. My people believe if you are close to the Earth, you are close to people" (137). She continues: What an African woman nurtures in the soil will eventually feed her family. Likewise, what she nurtures in her relations will ultimately nurture her community. It is a matter of living the circle. Because we have forgotten our kinship with the land, ... our kinship with each other has become pale. We shy away from accountability and involvement. We choose to be occupied, which is quite different from being engaged. In America, time is money. In Kenya, time is relationship. We look at investments differently. (137) Women, then, remember the human kinship with the land and honor the difficult and challenging aspects of our transactions with others. Women thus become the ones responsible for drawing the new contract, not one that reinscribes gender dualisms or attempts to overturn those dualisms, asserting women over men. Rather, the new contract is a remembered knowledge of the wisdom of elders like Wangari Waigwa-Stone, a remembering of the mysterious plenitude of Earth. The remembered ancient knowledge gleaned from birds returns Williams to herself and her home and offers the opportunity to remake her culture. In offering to tell her complicated and paradoxical journey to her audience through her pen and paper, which spill sand and feathers and smell of sage, Williams gives us a great and difficult gift. Notes 1. Jordan, Sunflower Forest, 42. 2. Ibid., 44. 3. Mitchell, "Reclaiming the Sacred Landscape," 169. 4. Glotfelty, "Flooding the Boundaries of Form," 161. 5. Farr, "American Ecobiography," 94. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. Glotfelty, "Flooding the Boundaries of Form," 165. Ibid. Zuelke, "Ecopolitical Space of Refuge," 241-42. Kircher, "Rethinking Dichotomies," 169. Mitchell, "Reclaiming the Sacred Landscape," 169. Riley, "Finding One's Place," 587. Jordan, Sunflower Forest, 83. Ibid., 85. Yuki, "Sound Ground to Stand On," 82. Ibid., 87. Mitchell, "Reclaiming the Sacred Landscape," 173. Jordan, Sunflower Forest, 42. Glotfelty, "Flooding the Boundaries of Form," 166. Dodd, "Beyond the Blithe Air," 4. Zuelke, "Ecopolitical Space of Refuge," 242. Kircher, "Rethinking Dichotomies," 161. Chandler, "Whale Song from the Desert," 656. The disparity in readings of Refuge can be found in the contrast between this perspective and that of several other critics. Although Cassandra Kircher recognizes the role of circles in Refuge, she concludes that Williams's circular expansion of the notion of family is romanticized and ignores her own embeddedness in a materialistic culture ("Rethinking Dichotomies," 168); yet Williams's experiences in the middle of the text are not the sum of its whole. Williams certainly acknowledges the contradictory nature of the life she leads by depicting scenes in which she shops with her dying mother or discusses the family business. Such an acknowledgment, I would suggest, creates a healthy tension, making the narrator's journey fraught with the fragile nature of what it means to be human, making it real, palpable, useful-making it, ultimately, an unnatural history. Similarly, Sarah McFarland demonstrates the way in which Williams comes to understand the sacred interrelatedness of all beings through her contact with wild birds, yet also the way in which she ignores the environmental justice issues surrounding the raising, killing, and eating of domestic birds (McFarland, "Invisible Birds," 45). Yet McFarland's criticism of Williams's privileging of wild birds over domestic birds again misses Williams's own recognition of the way in which she is embedded in-even implicated in-her own cultural practices. Finally, Karla Armbruster, while acknowledging Williams's seeming reinscription of dualistic thinking, claims that the poststructuralist nature of Refuge allows Williams to depict identity as relational and shifting and thus to rise above those cultural practices enframing her: "Eventually she [Williams] comes to accept that her identity must constantly shift and change as the places and people she is connected to shift, change, and even die" ("Rewriting a Genealogy with the Earth," 215). The contested nature of these readings suggests the complexity of Refuge and the way in which narrative layers fold one over the other to produce a contradictory, paradoxical, and yet somehow coherent and unified text. 23. Jeannette Riley, in "The Eco-Narrative and the Enthymeme," suggests that Refuge, as an eco-narrative, models "ecofeminist principles of interdependence, the importance of relationships, and the value of nature" such that the reader necessarily becomes a participant in the creation of the meaning of the text (82). Through the use of a particular rhetorical strategy, the enthymeme, Williams creates a space where "readers enter into the text itself and find themselves listening, or assenting to the discussion of issues taking place" (84). 24. Richardson, "Corporeal Testimony," 230. 25. Yuki, "Narrating the Invisible Landscape," 84. 26. Huntington, "Introduction I," 27. 27. Ibid., 28. Bibliography Armbruster, Karla. "Rewriting a Genealogy with the Earth: Women and Nature in the Works of Terry Tempest Williams." Southwestern American Literature 21 (1995): 209-20. Chandler, Katherine R. "Whale Song from the Desert: Refuge without Resolution and Community without Homogeneity in Terry Tempest Williams's Refuge." Women's Studies 34 (2005): 655-70. Dodd, Elizabeth. "Beyond the Blithe Air: Williams's Postnuclear Transcendentalism." In Surveying the Literary Landscapes of Terry Tempest Williams: New Critical Essays, edited by Katherine R. Chandler and Melissa A. Goldthwaite, 3-13. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2003. Farr, Cecilia Konchar. "American Ecobiography." In Literature of Nature: An International Sourcebook, edited by Patrick D. Murphy, 94-97. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998. Glotfelty, Cheryll. "Flooding the Boundaries of Form: Terry Tempest Williams's Ecofeminist Unnatural History." In Change in the American West: Exploring the Human Dimension, edited by Stephen Tchudi, 158-67. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1996. Huntington, Patricia. "Introduction I-General Background: History of the Feminist Reception of Heidegger and a Guide to Heidegger's Thought." In Feminist Interpretations of Martin Heidegger, edited by Nancy J. Holland and Patricia Huntington, 1-42. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001. Jordan, William R., III. The Sunflower Forest: Ecological Restoration and the New Communion with Nature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Kircher, Cassandra. "Rethinking Dichotomies in Terry Tempest Williams's Refuge." In Ecofeminist Literary Criticism: Theory, Interpretation, Pedagogy, edited by Greta Gaard and Patrick D. Murphy, 158-71. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. McFarland, Sarah E. "Invisible Birds: Domestic Erasure in Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge." Southwestern American Literature 29, no. 2 (Spring 2004): 45-52. Mitchell, Charles. "Reclaiming the Sacred Landscape: Terry Tempest Williams, Kathleen Norris, and the Other Nature Writing." Women's Studies 32 (2003): 165-82. Richardson, Tina. "Corporeal Testimony: Counting the Bodies in Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place." In Surveying the Literary Landscapes of Terry Tempest Williams: New Critical Essays, edited by Katherine R. Chandler and Melissa A. Goldthwaite, 229-38. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2003. Riley, Jeannette E. "The Eco-Narrative and the Enthymeme: Form and Engagement in Environmental Writing." Interdisciplinary Literary Studies 10, no. 2 (2009): 82-98. . "Finding One's Place in the ‘Family of Things’: Terry Tempest Williams and a Geography of Self." Women's Studies 32 (2003): 585-602. Williams, Terry Tempest. Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. New York: Vintage, 1991. Yuki, Masami. "Narrating the Invisible Landscape: Terry Tempest Williams's Erotic Correspondence to Nature." Studies in American Literature 34 (1998): 79-97. - "Sound Ground to Stand On: Soundscapes in Williams's Work." In Surveying the Literary Landscapes of Terry Tempest Williams: New Critical Essays, edited by Katherine R. Chandler and Melissa A. Goldthwaite, 81-93. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2003. Zuelke, Karl. "The Ecopolitical Space of Refuge." In Surveying the Literary Landscapes of Terry Tempest Williams: New Critical Essays, edited by Katherine R. Chandler and Melissa A. Goldthwaite, 239-51. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2003.