In Context

“Such things…as the grasp of a child’s hand in your own, the flavor of an apple, the embrace of a friend or a lover, the silk of a girl’s thigh, the sunlight on rock and leaves, the feel of music, the bark of a tree, the abrasion of granite and sand, the plunge of clear water into a pool, the face of the wind — what else is there? What else do we need?”
–Edward Abbey

I saw this quotation in a magazine. Curious about the source, I turned to Google and found it. It’s from Desert Solitaire (1968). What I also found is the preceeding sentence.

“For my own part, I am pleased enough with surfaces — in fact, they seem to me to be of much importance. Such things, for example, as the grasp of a child’s hand …”

When I read the lines in the magazine, surfaces were the farthest thing from my mind. My brain connected the word surface to superficial and unimportant, completely contradictory to the thoughts evoked by images of sunlight and music and the grasp of a child’s hand. Now, even more context was required for proper understanding. Desert Solitaire is a narrative nonfiction book about Abbey’s experiences as a park ranger in Utah, and in nature, as in all art, surfaces are indeed beautiful. How pleasant to have my synapses redirected on a more positive pathway.