September 6, 2023
William Ashworth is my new favorite author. I’ve been reading my way through a large collection of books that have been sitting on my shelf for years, waiting for me to retire and get to them. I just finished reading Ogallala Blue: Water and Life on the High Plains, published in 2006. Nonfiction is my preferred genre, but sometimes it can be dry. Not this one. Never have I seen writing so captivating and informative. Ashworth intersperses high plains history with user-friendly hydrology and geology information. He has attained a mastery of the English language that I can only dream of achieving.
His description of the Dismal River on page 100 speaks for itself:
The Dismal is probably the most misnamed river in America. Seen in the sunlight, it is a clear, deep, muscular stream flowing over sparkling sand, the big dunes lining its course bending gently back from it like the flanks of sleeping horses. I saw it in an uncharacteristic fog, with droplets of moisture clinging like beads of mercury to the cactuses and the yuccas and the soft white petals of the sand plums, the dunes fading upward like ghostly swans into a gray nothingness of damp atmosphere.
I’m certain nobody can top that.