FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake Advisory Board Member, Terry Tempest Williams, revisits Great Salt Lake.
It is hot. Alisha Anderson and I have just passed the Golden Spike National Historic Site on our way to the Spiral Jetty. Alisha is a former student of mine from the Environmental Humanities Graduate Program at the University of Utah. She is a woman in love with Great Salt Lake, 28 years old, the same age I was when I sought solace from this inland sea. We are on a pilgrimage on this Labor Day weekend to chart the changes of a capricious body of water.
From the corner of my eye, a flash of wings: A burrowing owl has just landed on a barbed wire fence post. We stop. Its yellow eyes could burn grasses with its stare; we blink before it does. These small diurnal predators with their long spindly legs are ground-dwelling tricksters. Once inside their mounds, their calls register as rattlesnakes, mimicking the dry shaking of their tails: A warning, “Do not enter.” A second owl, hidden in the sage, flies out and meets the first on top of their mound. To me, these are the signature species of the Great Basin.
I am home.
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