Wise and wonderful words: William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways

William Least Heat Moon is the modern deTocqueville, traveling the country, observing America. The next few posts will be excerpts from his book, published in 1982, called by some, including me, a masterpiece.

In the Chiricahua mountains of Arizona, Moon is camping out when a worn man wearing a “Boss-of-the Plains Stetson” hat steps into the firelight and tells Moon the story of an Apache chief called Goyathlay, One-Who-Yawns. Goyathlay survived the wars and dislocations and “became a successful farmer, wrote his autobiography, and joined the Dutch Reformed Church.”

During the indian wars, Goyathlay “‘often escaped to the mountains—to this very canyon, a sacred place where Apaches heard voices of the dead. He camped by and drank from this very stream. Like the outlaws of Tombstone who also hid here, Goyathlay was a desperado—that is to say, a desperate man.’

He stopped speaking. “‘Aren’t we all?’ I said and yawned again.

‘The desperado who died aged and successful although deprived of his old life and homeland, One-Who Yawns by name, you may have heard of.’

‘I don’t think so.”‘

‘Think again my countryman. The United States Army called him Geronimo. You see, there is hope for us all.’”