The Four-Cornered Falcon


The Four-Cornered Falcon

Essays on the Interior West and the Natural Scene

Reg Saner

300 pages


May 2011


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The western United States is a region of open space that has profoundly shaped the American character. In The Four-Cornered Falcon, Reg Saner explores places that can still transform the human spirit with almost sacred power and describes journeys—both physical and spiritual—to areas of the interior West as remote as they are beautiful. He explores northern New Mexico’s Pajarito Plateau, home to the ancient Anasazi culture and the weapons laboratories of Los Alamos. He recalls a long night spent in Chaco Canyon, alone and frightened after sustaining a serious rock-climbing injury. He tells of encounters with magpies and coyotes, botanists and wildlife officials. And he looks down on the multiplying lights of Boulder and realizes that the West he has long known cannot escape being blighted by growth.
Saner draws on a lifetime of hiking, climbing, and skiing in the backcountry of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona, but the themes and experiences he explores are the opposite of regional. Like the falcons of the title essay—like humans themselves—Saner’s essays are “four-cornered,” not simply for their connection to those famous intersecting borders but because they range so widely over space and time.

Author Bio

Reg Saner is a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado and is the author of, most recently, Living Large in Nature: A Writer’s Idea of Creationism, as well as Reaching Keet Seel: Ruin’s Echo and the Anasazi and four poetry collections. His work has been included in over sixty anthologies and he has won an NEA fellowship, the Creede Repertory Theater Award, the State of Colorado Governor’s Award, and the Wallace Stegner Award.


“Some nature writing presents the spectacle of an author being very sensitive. Here the author’s sensitivity is in the service of the great ethical and practical issue of our lifetime. The beauty of this book is not in its ornate prose, but in its plain sense of responsibility.”—Ursula K. Le Guin, New York Times Book Review

“Reg Saner is a brilliant observer of the natural scene. His language is luminous and exciting; his ideas have dramatic power. He is a poet of inner spaces as well, with the gift of moving the reader in unpredictable ways.”—Joyce Carol Oates

“Although he considers such topics as the force of the wind, the naming of nature, the mind of a forest, and the psychology of distress, no brief catalog can begin to do justice to Saner’s reserved and thoughtful tone.”—Virginia Quarterly Review

“Among the many recent books about the American outback, Reg Saner’s The Four-Cornered Falcon is a superbly conceived contribution. Like Barry Lopez and Harry Middleton and Annie Dillard, he can make those subtle connections between sacred space and the sacred heart. He may tell us much about marmots and magpies and the Great Unconformity, but in the process he tells us much about ourselves.”—Page Stegner, author of Outposts of Eden

“We’re trying in America, and particularly in the American West, to place ourselves in a new relationship to nature, to articulate what’s sacred and what’s not. Reg Saner knows the territory, both literally and metaphorically, and The Four-Cornered Falcon speaks to our concerns with wonderful, sane precision. What a good read, what a useful book.”—William Kittredge, author of We Are Not in This Together and Hole in the Sky<

Table of Contents

Prologue: Pliny and the Mountain Mouse
Glacier Gorge
The Magpie Scapular
Sacred Space
Technically Sweet
Naming Nature
The Ideal Particle and the Great Unconformity
The Mind of a Forest
Chaco Night
Swiss Wilderness
The Four-Cornered Falcon
Epilogue: What's to Become?

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