[Tweeters] Peter Matthiesson passing

Mike & MerryLynn m.denny at charter.net
Sun Apr 6 13:10:55 PDT 2014

Yesterday on 5 April 2014 a giant of a man passed away. He was a gifted
honest writer that presented to his readers the world through
thoughtful, concerned eyes.
I had the great privilege of hosting this outstanding human being on 22
March 2002

Thanks to Randy Hill who sent me from the Othello Sandhill Crane
Festival to pick Peter up at the Pasco airport. Once we got he and his
bag loaded in the car I asked Peter what route he would like to return
to Othello by. He looked at me and said just one word "Hanford". So for
the next four hours we drove around Hanford talking about its impacts on
this earth, about the many species of wildlife that lived there and of
course we did a fair amount of birding.

He shared with me his great concerns about where we were headed as a
society, where wildlife conservation stood next to a mushrooming human
population and we talked a lot about Africa, its people, natural
resources and where we saw its future. Peter was fun, very thoughtful
and observant of local folks and their conditions. Peter wanted to see
the Columbia River so we stopped at Vernita Bridge and we walked down to
the river on the north shoreline. I explained that he was standing along
the last free flowing stretch of this once mighty river. He stood there
quiet watching the river as it flowed off to the east into Hanford and
the White Bluffs. Slowly he turned and looked at me and pointed upstream
and asked about the mountains to the northwest. A couple hours later he
told me that as we were standing at the waters edge he was trying to
decide if he could write a book on this place, if he had it in him to
talk about a place so altered that caused so much grief and changed this
world forever.

He then shared with me his experience of writing his first book on Cesar
Chavez and how he had met and got to know this very strong man of
conscience. We also talked about the Columbia Basin and the huge
irrigation project and the many crops produced. That evening Bob Flores,
Randy Hill, Mr. Hoffman and myself joined Peter for supper at a very
small mom and pop Mexican food cafe in Othello. He told all of us that
the food was outstanding because it was as close to eating with a
hispanic family he had had in a long time. He then joined Randy and I on
a birding tour of the Columbia NWR and asked us not to introduce him to
the bus full of folks as he wanted to just be one other birder out
looking at the birds. What a rare and decent human being he was. He has
left behind for us a large number of outstanding books that are worth
your time to read. Thank-you Mike Denny

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