Traveling Through Our Books -- by Jane Kelley

I've just returned from a trip to the moon.

Or as close as one can get to it on earth. My family and I visited the Craters of the Moon -- a National Monument in Idaho. The lava field is so rugged that NASA actually used it to prepare astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, Eugene Cernan, and Joe Engle for their mission to the moon that's 239 thousand miles away.

The landscape was beautiful. Spatter cones were as intricately carved as any work of art. The geology was fascinating. The lava under our feet had oozed up from a great rift and was over a mile deep. In many places, caves had formed as lava continued to flow beneath the rapidly cooling surface. I loved being there. It sparked my imagination in a multitude of ways. These are probably the only words I will ever write about it.


I have great admiration for writers who can transport me to a brand new world. That is one of joys of reading. I've tried sometimes to do that, but I always find myself returning to the landscapes I know. The woods. Manhattan. Rural suburbs of Wisconsin. Brooklyn. Often it's a specific spot. For instance,  my parrot Zeno perched on an actual statue of an angel at Greenwood Cemetery -- which he, in his arrogance, believed was a Parrot-Man.

How did I think of that? Well, I spent a lot of time wandering around that cemetery. It helps me to know a place. To be familiar with everything about it. To be a resident and not a tourist.

And yet I know I travel when I write my stories. I try to visit an emotional geography--like the foot of this immense mountain of cinders that erupted from deep within the earth.
And there, despite howling winds, the blazing heat of the sun, and an uncertain water supply, I discover that some flowers can still bloom.


  1. Driven through Craters of the Moon on our way to Sun Valley Idaho. My son is living there now and I have to say after seeing your pictures now I am going to have to stop and explore. Idaho is a truly beautiful place that many people have not explored. My favorite memory is when the wind whistles through the valley at night and the Elks bugle.

  2. This is so true--as a writer, you have to see all the sights. ;)

  3. I'm so with you on this, Jane, that I write about the worlds I know deeply - not the stunningly fabulous worlds I've visited only once. And yet sometimes I yearn to write about these new landscapes, as well. Thanks for sharing this.


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