Owens Valley and High Sierra from the Inyo Mountains
Later in the day I stop at the Manzanar National Historic Site, where ten thousand Japanese-Americans were interned for over three years during World War II, in an American version of the concentration camp. There is a wonderful interpretive center at the site, along with replicas of a guard tower, barracks, and mess hall. As I wander around Manzanar, thinking about racism and fear and stupidity, I realize that I can see canyons in the Inyos where slender salamanders lived when the camp was active. And somehow this knowledge – that those patient creatures were living out their lives, and had endured, completely removed from the march of human folly – gives me some comfort. Although I haven’t worked out all the reasons for feeling as I do, I know that the lives of salamanders offer us some solace, in the face or personal and more general grief. To understand the nature of this process is one of the reasons that I am here.
Manzanar Relocation Camp; Inyo Mountains in the Background