Sunday, February 21, 2010

Forgotten Words...

“Forgotten Words” is what I've chosen to name this post of the FIREWATER blog. Forgotten words in reference to the near disappearance of written journals of little known but historically important characters to our Inland Northwest. “Near disappearance” I say as it is the literal work author Jack Nisbet who has reached back in time through the above mentioned journals of David Thompson and David Douglas, and a number of others to resurrecting those words. Nisbet has the talent to do so within a contemporary framework and offer it all to us in a digestible format.

“Like a lot of explorers and heroes, you go through ebbs and flows,” says Spokane historian/author Jack Nisbet in a December 2007 interview with the Spokesman Review newspaper. Considering Nisbet’s collection of published works including:
• The Sources of the River (1994)
• Purple Flat Top: In Pursuit of a Place (1996)
• Singing Grass, Burning Sage: Discovering Washington’s Shrub-Steppe (1999)
• Visible Bones: Journeys through Time in the Columbia River Country
• The Mapmaker’s Eye: David Thompson on the Columbia Plateau (2005)
• The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest (2009)

I say the tide of Mr. Nisbet is on ‘flow’.

Catherine, Clementine and I had the opportunity, along with 30 or so other local folks, to see and listen to Jack tell the background story on his latest book – ‘The Collector’ at the Republic Library on the Friday evening of February 19th.

Nisbet’s ‘The Collector’ won the 2010 annual Pacific Northwest Book Awards, which have been presented to such luminary figures in Northwest literature as Ivan Doig, Ursula LeGuin, David James Duncan, David Guterson, Jon Krakauer, Chuck Palahniuk, and Sherman Alexie.

One of the engaging elements of attending Nisbet’s presentations is his combined passion & knowledge for the subjects he’s researched and documented. Whether it’s the topographic formations of the Pacific Northwest, specific landmarks and place names or a litany of historical characters Jack can espouse them right along side the local and Latin names of most native plants.

Chance found me reading ‘The Mapmaker’s Eye’ while sitting on my river deck in late May 2007. The Kettle River flowing by at flood stage was the backdrop. Through his research and writing of the challenges of David Thompson, Jack was able to guide me to see what a significant event it was to native peoples and early explorers in trying to cross our local rivers and larger streams at flood stage. I’ve lived along the shores of the Kettle River for nearly 30 years but that moment, in reading the words of this historic explorer, framed by this excellent author, a poignant realization settled over me. One that to this day, nearly three years later, is still within the fabric of understanding woven into me regarding my chosen home-ground.

It is within the stand of the ponderosa pines in the centerground of this photograph where riverhome is located and where the Kettle River is often viewed from deck with good book in hand and a hot cup of coffee nearby...
  If you get a chance to catch up with Jack at one of his presentations or book signing events don’t miss the opportunity. And needless to say, I encourage you to read Jack’s books. The following is a link to some Jack Nisbet sites:

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