Intensely experienced, smartly delivered vignettes form Williams (Refuge, 1991) on the power of place, and in particular the special connections among women, spirituality, and the earth. Most of the pieces in this collection hinge on the mystery of the natural world, how it serves us with myth and memory, insight and intuition, or just scares the pants off us. Though Williams isn't confined to one place -- she gets around from Mexico to Montana, from the Serengetti to Pelham Bay, New York City -- she has a special talent for evoking the desert Southwest. Nor is she limited to the landscape; her profiles of Georgia O'Keeffe, Rachel Carson, and Mardy Murie are sharp examples of biography, neat blends of passion, experience, and progressive politics. Let Williams loose in the countryside and the participant/observer naturalist in her gets down to business. She draws connections everywhere: how an Alaskan totem pole impinges on her uncle, how a stone woman offers encouragement and direction, how an ecosystem becomes an echo system becomes a Pansexual landscape. Sensuality invades all aspects of the book. In ways mystical and deeply personal, with skill and imagination, Williams experiences the earth directly, one woman wedded to the wilderness -- ""I kneel in the grasses and hold tight."" She is a partisan writing with conviction and grace for an end to nuclear testing, clear-cutting, and war; for a love of the wild; for a rekindling of the empathy and awe in which we once held the land. And then she goes out and practices what she preaches. With an observant eye and a breathtaking frame of reference, Williams fluently explores the meeting ground of place, spirit, and emotion.