"He flew: long, lazy circles over towns and woods, flying low and slow: peeling an apple as he flew, sometimes. Looking for the thing, the things no one else knew to look for yet, though he knew they would find it, and rip it into shreds. He considered falling in love."
The narrator of "The Sky, the Stars, the Wilderness" doesn't consider falling in love; she has already found it with her family and the land they own in west Texas: "a 10,000-acre oasis of forest and woodland, with mountains full of blooming mountain laurel and cliffs bearing petroglyphs from 500 years ago--rock etchings of Spaniards with guns and swords and iron helmets, horses and banners--but civilization passed through like only a thin breeze."
Middle-aged now, she lives with the memories of growing up with her father; grandfather; an old friend, Chubb; and Omar, her younger brother. Mother died when she was a girl and is buried on a bluff above the Nueces River beneath an oak that stood when Cabeza de Vaca crossed the land.
History, as timeless as the migrations of birds, as irrevocable as conquistadors and republicans, as colloquial as the broadcast of a baseball game, fills these pages in a slow, nearly hypnotic paean to a place that will assuredly evanesce. Since her mother's death, the narrator, who remains bravely nameless, almost transient herself, admits to her confusion. " . . . [B]eing torn in two directions by the richness of life, is what it felt like--the richness of the past, the promise of the future--and always wondering, How much of me is really me? What part has been sculpted by the land, and what part by my blood legacy, bloodline? What mysterious assemblage is created anew from those two intersections?"