My room was literally overflowing with books. She said all these up here in the shelves flanking the door are reference works, arranged alphabetically. Over there on the other wall are numerous biographies, collections of correspondence, and histories. In the large closet, above and below the hanging clothing, are stacks of the books she'd written herself over the past three, four decades. Books, books, books everywhere. Which gave the room a scholarly feel, which I liked very much.
As we spoke I spotted one of my very favorites, "The Snow Leopard," by her dear friend, Peter Matthiessen. It describes his long, dangerous, and sometimes painful trek through the Himalaya. He was determined to find an elusive spiritual enlightenment on his way to "…the Crystal mountain…west under Annapurna and north along the Kali Gandaki River, then west and north again, around the Dhaulagiri peaks and across the Kanjiroba, two hundred and fifty miles or more to the land of Dolpo, on the Tibetan Plateau."
I shared with my sweet generous hostess that I was deeply moved by the end of Matthiessen's narrative where he admits that the most important lesson he learned was that he just as well could have done the exploration in his own back yard. And at much less cost to his wife and child who anxiously awaited his return.
She smiled, and nodded. "Yes."