Several times a week I walk up and down the foothills our town of Woodland Hills perches on. Santaquin Peak and Tower Mountain rise above us to the southeast and east, Utah Valley stretches away to the north. I carry my cell phone in my back pocket in case I see something I want to photograph and while I walk the STRAVA app records my route.

Looking at several of the recordings, I’m a little abashed at the repetition that occurs over weeks and months and years. Can’t I find other places to walk?

Introducing our book Wild Riders & Wildflowers, Sam Rushforth and I explained our mostly repetitive routes this way:

Our intent was to ride a single portion of the Great Western Trail on the foothills of Mount Timpanogos again and again and again until we had seen its flora and fauna in every variation over the course of several years. We were looking for patterns, for meaning found only in repetition. We set out to catalogue our experiences with flora, fauna, weather, and geology, to see and hear and smell and taste everything along this trail so minutely, so sensitively, that our readers would be astonished. Unfortunately, we are aging men with tics and foibles that preclude much sensitivity. So we wrote about what we knew: fear of aging, male behavior patterns left over from junior high, anguish at the relentless “development” of wild lands in the West, and about what Thoreau described as “wild and noble sights…such as they who sit in parlors never dream of.”

Repetition was also the theme of the book Repetitions, co-written with Zarko Radakovic. Our trip from Austria across the border into what was then Yugoslavia repeated a trip by a character in Peter Handke’s novel Repetition and our separate reports on events during that trip converged and diverged in ways only possible through repetition.

So despite the STRAVA images that suggest a lack of walking imagination, I’m suggesting that while they look remarkably similar, each single walk was rich with discovery.

Take a look at these earlier posts about walks along this route and see if that isn’t true:

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
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2 Responses to Repetitions

  1. alex caldiero says:

    i love the visual representations. as i look deeper i go past the repetitions and see reiterations a moving deeper into the topography untill i gain a real sense of the space-place an ever growing consciousness of SPLACE. that loci in the mind with its own laws and requirements among these being an enlargement of consciousness so that the walks continue with a life of their own and will arrive at destinations undreamed of and yet realizable by the. genius of imagination you arrive home.


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