There are individuals whose adventures with the Grand Canyon have encompassed a greater time span — as well as a greater space span — than is the case with either of us. But no two persons — no married couple, we believe, have through the years had a greater love for the Canyon than we. It subtly helped to draw us together before marriage. It has been a golden thread woven through our married life; we have had a combined total of 114 year’s acquaintance with it. It is in Helen’s native state — a part of her heritage. The Canyon and the areas surrounding it have been the scenes of many of our professional documentary film endeavors for more than 40 years.
We are not trained specialists in such fields as geology, archeology, biology, ethnography — areas of knowledge important to a technical understanding of the Grand Canyon scene. In certain respects, this has its advantages. Henry David Thoreau had no scientific training when he first made his retreat at Walden Pond, where he saw nature and the world around him in such fresh and creative aspects that all humankind has been enriched by the splendor of his concepts. His biographer, Henry Seidel Canby, says of Thoreau: “He knew enough of nature to see wholes clearly; (but) as the infinite details of life grew more complex to his understanding, his vision narrowed and shortened. Soon he was studying Gray, whose botany . . . made plant study possible on a sound scientific basis. After Gray, it became increasingly difficult for him to look at a flower except in terms of science.”
We have to confess that when we look at a flower, we see beauty first and botany second, and when we gaze into the Canyon’s depths, geology often takes second place to the grandeur.
While we are not Thoreaus, we feel that we have brought to our Grand Canyon experiences a refreshing variety of uncluttered concepts, sometimes less scientific than subtle, and often more poetic than ponderous. At the same time, we are deeply grateful to the scientists. Readers of this book who want specific technical knowledge of the Grand Canyon should consult the dozens of excellent — and vital — works pertaining to its varied scientific asm and zest for living. In everything they do they discover new adventures and surprises.
“Francis and Helen are like that — vigorous, alive, reaching out for new knowledge and new experiences around every turn in the trail. The story they have told of their love affair with Grand Canyon is an absorbing and inspirational saga. The reader not only becomes acquainted with the Canyon, and this whole southwestern area surrounding it, but with a couple who are in love with life — and each other. The Lines are “contagious.” You have a rare treat ahead of you.”Mike Swartz
Grand Canyon National Park