• kjoannerixon

The Secret Knowledge of Water


I'm not one for religion; I was raised in it but was never able to access a sense of connection with the divine in that tradition. God has never spoken to me, you know? The closest I get to that experience is to be in the wild, under the stars, my feet on the dirt. Childs, too, I think, is one who finds the ineffable universe in a drop of water.


THE SECRET KNOWLEDGE OF WATER is profound, lovely, astonishing. Childs has a strong voice, an artist's touch with language, and is writing about experiences that anyone would be lucky to have. At times I was surprised he was still alive; at times I wondered if he knew something I didn't about how to be alive. I'm certain he knows something it is rare to know, about what it is like to be on the edge between surviving and not surviving, that liminal state. This is the secret knowledge he holds: what it feels like to be in the heat of the desert day without enough water to make it home; what it feels like to watch as a flash flood thunders down the canyon toward you.


I've read a lot of books about deserts this winter, and found this to be the easiest, most gripping read. Maybe it helped that I read it while in walking distance of the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge that Childs journeys through in the first part of the book. But I think it would have impressed me even if I read it in the foggy winter of the Pacific NW. I've put a hold on the audiobook for my partner, who I think will love it just as much as I did.

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