In Ground Truth: A Geological Survey of a Life, geologist Ruby McConnell opens her memoir-in-essays, about the Pacific Northwest with the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. St. Helens in May of 1980. “I was born to a region digging out.” In poignant, wide-ranging essays about the wondrous annual return of salmon, to evaluating soil at an elementary school, Ground Truth is an extended eulogy to a rapidly changing land and a society awakening to the realities of logging, climate change, land-use, and pollution.
Poetic and urgent, these essays get to the heart of our environmental crisis through reflection and observation, skillfully weaving together McConnell’s scientific background and her connection with the people and places of the Pacific Northwest. The land – its contours and movements – is a central force through all of these essays. By turns lyrical, nuanced, and eye-opening, Ground Truth is a timely collection that speaks to the heart of our environmental crisis on a human scale and reveals how the landscapes we inhabit can help us better understand ourselves and our relationship to the ground beneath our feet.
The essays in Ground Truth focus on how the earth abides and endures through one cataclysmic event after another. This hopeful and inspiring collection applies geological thinking to modern living and shows us to think about time in ways that are both humbling and urgent.