Altitude Adjustment: A Quest for Love, Home, and Meaning in by Mary Beth Baptiste

By Mary Beth Baptiste

Conscious that her early life is slipping through, Mary Beth Baptiste comes to a decision to flee her lackluster, suburban existence in coastal Massachusetts to pursue her lifelong dream of being a Rocky Mountain woodswoman. To the horror of her conventional, ethnic relatives, she divorces her husband of fifteen years, dusts off her natural world biology measure, and flees to Moose, Wyoming for a task at Grand Teton nationwide Park. In those rugged mountains, unforeseen classes from nature and flora and fauna advisor her trip as she creates a brand new existence for herself. Set opposed to the dramatic backdrop and quirky tradition of Jackson gap, this fantastically written memoir is a considerate, usually funny account of a woman’s bumbling quest for function, redemption, and love via desolate tract experience, solitude, and offbeat human connections. 

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This is where we store the road kills that we use to bait the bear traps. ” Rifling through frosted plastic bags, he draws out an elk leg, a partially decomposed antelope head, a whole coyote pup, three unidentifiable songbirds, and a red-tailed hawk. The rank odor I’d noticed on entering the building is no longer a mystery. It stirs up long-forgotten college memories, my sinuses prickling with the smell of formalin—carving out a rat’s ovaries and the gastrocnemius muscle in a frog’s leg, smuggling a partially dissected cat in a plastic bag into my dorm room so I could work on it after lab hours.

Although based on innocent love, my marriage was not the boatload of emotional riches every woman yearns for. I felt stifled and bored, and I wanted a bigger life. But what I’m beginning to learn is this: Just being married—even unhappily—kept the Creature at bay for fifteen years. Bill was always there, a safety net, when hardships came. Now I’m on my own. And something’s going to crash; I just know it. Like the Azoreans who never know when their island’s caldeira might blow and spit molten lava over the rim, I worry that, even if the Teton fault doesn’t scrape into “The Big One,” a pebble might fall into this groove of mine that seems to fit so well.

Between the mountains are the canyons I would come to know and love: Granite, Open, Death, Cascade, Paintbrush. Jackie explains that French trappers came through here in the 1800s and named the mountains Les Trois Tetons, the three breasts. They’d also been called “Pilot Knobs” by explorers who sighted them as landmarks as they came over Union Pass. ” Jackson Hole was named in 1829 for David Jackson, a partner of Jedediah Smith in the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. ” First called Jackson’s Hole, the name was later shortened to Jackson Hole.

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