On the Loose in Santa Fe

Years back, on my short (but very, very wet) course with North Carolina Outward Bound, we were given a book of readings and quotes. A whole bunch of them were from a book I'd never heard of — On the Loose. I was able to track down a copy, one of the first printings (I think).

Thursday morning, tuned into the Radio CafĂ©, but only kind of half-listening, as it's still pledge season. But gradually came to realize that she was interviewing that On The Loose guy — Renny Russell — about his new book, Rock Me On the Water. And it turns out, he was going to be appearing at an event at Collected Works on Friday evening. He even concluded his interview by offering to sign old copies of On The Loose that anyone brought.

Last night, after work, headed to the shop. Got my book signed and settled in for the evening's presentation.

He began with some thoughts and anecdotes how On The Loose came to be. Really, it was just a personal project that he and his brother did for themselves, to document what they saw and how they felt on their wilderness adventures in the West. But when they showed it to David Brower, a family friend and the executive director of the Sierra Club, he felt that they had to publish it. And the Sierra Club did, over the objections of Ansel Adams, though by the time it was complete, Terry had died on a river expedition.

Renny had the original manuscript last night, and passed it around through the audience. Leather bound (with the text on the spine reading the wrong way), photos dry mounted directly on the pages, the calligraphy with the faintest pencil lines still visible.

He read some selected passages from Rock Me On the River, some dealing with Renny and Terry's early years, and how they developed their love of books alongside their love of the wilderness. Later, he moved on to thoughts on river travel and how the experience has changed over the years. And he concluded with an honest-to-goodness slide show, a full carousel of photos — offered, by and large, without any explanation or commentary — from a lifetime spent in the wilderness.


The temperature's taken a turn down the past couple days, and there's even been some snow showers. This morning, awoke to an inch or so on the non-hardtop surfaces, including the apricot blossoms. This might've done the apricots in for another year.


And it looks like Mark Dimunation's re-creation of Thomas Jefferson's library has opened. He had shared stores about this project when we saw him speak last year.

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