Forest People

You might know Louis L’Amour from his epic portrayals of the American West, pioneers, cowboys, women and men who built the new country. He was also quite a good poet. “Forest People” is one of my favorites from the collection Smoke From This Altar, perfect for the muddy springtime when the critters leave their story on this spot of land we call home.

I read their story in the sand,
  Another in the snow,
They write it with their tiny feet
  As they come and go;

Here one stopped to eat awhile,
  There one paused in fear—
This was a sparrow’s landing field
  With marks of his running gear;

Their joys and woes and tragedies
  Are written clear and bold.
Their swift, minute biographies
  The tracks they leave unfold.


Coyote and small mammal tracks in the dirt outside our place; our “Sand People.”

2 thoughts on “Forest People

  1. Susan Fisher

    Lance and Erin: What a surprise to see this quoted here . . . a circuitous route to your blog. I live in Phoenix and am starting up a website: Although it will contain resources for AZ outdoor adventurers, it will mainly tell the stories of those who “step onto the road”, as Gandalf encourages in The Hobbit. I am just now in the process of organizing on PAPER the layout I will be using with WordPress. The WordPress website cites your blog as an example of the TwentyTwelve theme, so I visited “Adventures with Lance and Erin”. Never expected it to be in Arizona, nor something as varied and interesting as yours is, and CERTAINLY NEVER EXPECTED TO READ THIS PARTICULAR LOUIS L’AMOUR POEM. He is (was) my great-uncle; was best man at my mother’s wedding. Not too many people know of Smoke from this Altar. I hope to meet you both some day!


    1. Lance Willett

      Hi Susan, what a cool story; it’s great to hear from you and neat that you found us through I grew up reading everyanything and everything by L’Amour; my favorites are Education of a Wandering Man and The Walking Drum. We’ve been to Jamestown, North Dakota during our RV travels to visit L’Amour “places” and learn more about him. He’s one of my favorite writers and a big inspiration in my life, from living a life of adventuring, discovery, and constant learning all the way to preserving traditions and stories of those that came before.

      It would be cool to meet you some day!


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