I was putting toothpaste on my toothbrush one recent morning when my radio informed me that President Obama had chosen the CEO of REI, Sally Jewell, as the next Interior Secretary. I stopped and stared at myself, open-mouthed, in the mirror. A hiker? A skier and snowboarder? A mountain-climber, cyclist, kayaker? Dare I think ... maybe... possibly... an environmentalist?
Imagine that...appointing a Secretary of the Interior who actually gives a good goddamn about the land.
Someone who can recognize the land's intrinsic worth rather than just finding more room for drilling rigs; who might consider pristine forests over profit; who realizes value isn't always measured in money.
Compare, please, with a recent quote from Sally Jewell, after a climb near her home in Seattle: "It feels so nice to get a little mud on your feet, a little mist in your face."
Oh, what interesting conversations she could have with my character Walden around the campfire! Lacey Thurman, the Secretary of the Interior protagonist I made up, had to be to kidnapped and forced to walk in woods of the Pacific Northwest. But our new real-life Interior Secretary would appear to already know what it took Lacey the length of my novel to learn.
It sounds like Sally Jewell has sat around plenty of campfires under starry skies. And she would be more apt to meet Walden going up a mountain, or down a river, or on the trail ... or maybe to meet you or me there.
As Timothy Egan phrased it in The New York Times, "If confirmed, Jewell would be one of the few directors of that vast department to actually share the passions of the majority of people who use the 500 million acres of public land under Interior’s control."