He had run the Race to Robie Creek the day before he and friends hiked around the volcanic outskirts of Craters of the Moon National Monument in April of 2000. The Idaho conservationist was there at the personal request of a staffer for Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to gather information about its potential for similar protection by President Bill Clinton.
In a moment, his life changed forever. He suffered a massive stroke that left his legs, useless, his mind incoherent and his mouth unable to speak.
For nearly a day he laid on the rocks, off trail where he couldn’t be easily found. In those hours he remembered his father’s stroke 32 years earlier that had rendered him speechless before he died six months later.
Medberry was found and slowly he recovered. That longer journey led him to write a book that weaves his story with that of the land.
In On the Dark Side of the Moon, Medberry launches readers into a captivating account of the chilling, solitary moments of a devastating stroke in the middle of a cinder-coned wilderness, then carries them through the rediscovery of his consciousness and the desert he loves.
Caxton Press will launch On the Dark Side of the Moon, at the Log Cabin Literary Center Thursday at 7 p.m. Medberry will read and sign books and I will introduce him.
I’m in the book because after Medberry’s stroke, I flew with Babbitt that summer to Laidlaw Park, the stunning sagebrush-covered kipuka, an island of soil and grass surrounded by lava. He heard of Medberry’s stroke and the maps and notes that grew out of the trip of Medberry and his associates gave him what he needed to meet with ranchers and hammer out his monument proposal.
Medberry tells how Babbitt’s recommendation led Clinton to expand Craters of the Moon National Monument. Today, after Congress acted it is called the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve and covers 750,000 acres.
It’s part of the a part of an ecosystem and connected landscape that stretches from the top of the 11,000-plus high Pioneer mountains between Hailey and Mackey south down to 4,000 feet and nearly to Interstate 84.
But On the Dark Side of the Moon is about Craters as much as Terry Tempest Williams’ book Refuge is about the Bear River Bird Refuge. Williams examined her family’s cancer as Medberry leads us through his recovery from stroke..
I watched this as a friend but had no idea what really was happening. Medberry guides the reader to a higher level of consciousness as he describes his own trip forward.
Stroke patients and their families especially can learn a lot from Medberry’s poetic recounting of his own healing in On the Dark Side of the Moon. But it transcends even that genre.