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The Land of Little Rain is a book of sketches which portray the high desert country of southern California, where the Sierras descend into the Mojave Desert. Mary Austin finds beauty in the harsh landscape: "This is the sense of the desert hills--that there is room enough and time enough. . . The treeless spaces uncramp the soul." Her story begins with the water trails that lead toward the few life giving springs--the way marked for men by ancient Indian pictographs. Life and death play out at these springs. Rabbits fall prey to the coyote; buzzards hang heavily in the sky above. She then writes of individuals who eke out their living in this land of scarce resources--an itinerant gold prospector, a sheepherder, a blind Indian basket maker. Austin's spare prose creates unforgettable vignettes: "Choose a hill country for storms. . . I remember one night of thunderous rain made unendurably mournful by the houseless cry of a cougar whose lair, and perhaps his family, had been buried under a slide of broken boulders . . ." Anyone who sees beauty in the Southwestern deserts, or who just enjoys good nature writing, will savor The Land of Little Rain. (
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