Reading Reid is a joy, one I recommend with verve to all my faithful or even my feckless readers.
Given that feckless means ineffective and purposeless, I recommend it even more to feckless readers if any run across this; reading Reid may serve them by revealing some of life’s purpose.
Reading Robert Leonard Reid of Carson City is worth my time, and I was lucky enough to run across his “Mountains of the Great Blue Dream” in a used book store just before Christmas. I wrapped it and tendered as a present for my household’s good cheer. Published by North Point Press of San Francisco in 1991, it’s a group of essays on mountaineering, but a whole lot more.
Reid lived in New Mexico then, but since came to and has lived in this neck of the Sierra Nevada region to entertain us all with not only his writings but his musical talents. This is the Bob Reid of the Me and Bobby McGee duo in which he plays piano and sings with June Joplin.
This is definitely not that other Nevadan named Reid, the native Harry who fled the state to take on the infamy of writing laws in the nation’s capital.
Bob Reid’s background is as varied as is his sense of place, which settled here after banging about North America’s wild places of either urbanity and density or sparsity of humanity. He has mined everything from science and mathematics to mincing few words in books, has written and performed music, and has taken the measure of mountains in his lengthy trek that ended up in Nevada.
What began in Pennsylvania ran through Harvard, the Big Apple and the mountains of our land unitl it culminated in Carson City.
Reid has published not only this book of seven essays on mountaineering, but also “America, New Mexico” and his most recent “Arctic Circle.” My wife, Jean, and I have a signed copy of “Arctic Circle,” and we’ll be sure to get his signature for our recently-acquired copy of “Mountains of the Great Blue Dream.”
It captures the “realities” and yet mystical qualities of mountains and climbing throughout the nation, including in the Gila Wilderness and Black Mountains of New Mexico, the state where Bob and his wife, Carol, used to reside. Jean and I have been to that region of New Mexico more than once; Bob has captured it.
Reid spent a quarter century climbing, was a mountaineering leader for the Sierra Club and at one time edited “A Treasury of the Sierra Nevada” for Wilderness Press. In his book of essays on mountaineering, he begins with a quote from Guido Rey’s “Peaks and Precipices” which goes: “Let us stop here a little while longer! It is good to rest on the summit, and to dream amongst the clouds for a few short moments in one’s life.”
But it’s in his introductionbReid confesses his essays, though written and presented with pride, are final judgments and last words as fleeting as mayflies. As he put it: “I cannot summarize and I cannot provide an irrevocable answer, because the moment I think at last I understand is the moment I round a corner and discover a landscape of unimagined richness, one that quickens my pulse anew and renders obsolete all previous understanding.”
Maybe that’s why Bob and Carol and John and Jean ended up in this community in the foothills of the Carson Spur along the Sierra Nevada.
Home is where you find it, even if you have to go looking for it first.
John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at email@example.com.