Monthly Archives: April 2014

Into the Wild

My apologies to Jon Krakauer. I am unabashedly stealing his title for my own non-commercial use. I won’t do so without giving him due credit, nor for that matter without recommending you read his (to me) wonderful little book about the life and passing of Christopher McCandless. It’s the sort of book that could change your life if you allow it.

I commandeer the title though because of something it implies, mainly that “the wild” is something that can be gone into and out of. From the perspective of civilization, I suppose there is a certain amount of truth in this. My home to the naked eye is more domestic than the hillside behind it, which itself is more domestic than the larger expanses of forest in the mountains to the east, which are more domestic than the great expanses of “wilderness” in Canada, etc. “Wild” in this sense means a place inhabited by no or few people or at least less-impacted by the hand of humanity. Fair enough.

However, this seems to me a terribly misleading idea. Certainly what we humans do tends to leave a footprint. Often a big muddy one all over Ma Nature’s pretty carpet. We don’t like admitting that we have the tendency to muck up the joint but only the most delusional truly deny it. It’s obvious just about everywhere one looks. Even those “wild” places often carry the marks of our passing. My favorite trout streams are wreathed by railroad beds of past industry and often harbor fish not native to the region. We are a herd of bulls in a very small china shop.

Still, to impact something is not the same as controlling it. The processes (and ultimately “laws”) of the natural world remain intact. Dammed (damned?) rivers still have a way of finding the sea or evaporating into the air. Deserts blooming with the desired produce of mankind stop blooming as soon as the water supply is cut off. Weeds pulled from my garden have a way of coming back. Again and again and again. We may channel certain natural forces, even alter them incredibly, but in the end we never really control them. Reality remains undomesticated and our attempts to domesticate it are futile at best or self-destructive at worst (and unfortunately, destructive to other creatures as well).

I am trying to shift my paradigm. To see the world as it is. To see that “the wild” may be altered but not conquered. To see that my domesticated home is filled with wild creatures–from the birds that nest on it to bees that nest in it to the billions of unseen creepy crawlies that as I type are swarming over my keyboard and desk and hands and all the rest of my body. To see that I need what they need–air and water and habitat. To see that the physical and chemical and organic processes that govern them also govern me and all my kind. To see that I have made my home in the Great Wild. I cannot go into the wild because I am already there. I was born into it and so were you. It is to our mutual peril when we think otherwise.

Categories: Miscellany, Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WHAT THE CORMORANT TOLD ME

Spendid

rageagainstthedams

The cormorant swims upstream past the canoe launch on the Indian Head River, occasionally poking his head beneath the river’s slick surface as he paddles by me. Upon reaching the bend some fifty yards up current, he turns and allows the flow to carry him back past where I’m standing at the ramp. Then he turns and repeats his upstream search. We’re here, the cormorant and I, for the same reason. We’re looking for trout. To be more precise, we’re waiting for trout. The hatchery truck hasn’t arrived yet, but we remember that at this time last year the river was full of trout.

The annual trout migration, via state owned tank trucks, has been delayed by a long winter and a late spring. The cormorant and I have been conditioned to arrive at the river at about this time every year with the expectation of finding a stream full…

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Not Always So Serious

A sense of mission can be a blessing in life. Like most blessings, it can also be a curse. Single-mindedness can lead to tunnel vision. Failing to lift our eyes from the path we doggedly pursue, we can miss some lovely sights along the way.

I am usually not so serious as many of my posts. I laugh. A lot. I watch silly shows. Sure, I’m interested in “deep” topics and philosophy and spirituality and the meaning of it all, but sometimes I just want a chocolate chip cookie. One made by my wife. In fact, forget the cookie–just give me a bowl and a spoon and the dough. Save a step and some energy and help the environment, right? No fossil fuels required to just eat the dough. But there I go getting serious again.

I like to watch my chickens rove about the yard. I can’t decide whether they are very serious or not serious at all. They seem to take themselves pretty seriously, but the way they mingle with my cats shouts absurdity. It doesn’t help that they are naturally humorous in their locomotion, and victims of  a great existential practical joke, what with having wings and all but being unable to truly fly. Do they watch the sparrows and finches and crows that often visit with a touch of envy? Do they get the joke? One wonders.

I love to get lost in music, or the sound of a mountain stream, or the sighing of the wind in lonely high places. If feel so small and absurd myself in such places, a tiny bit of cosmic flotsam deposited by currents far beyond my little brain’s ability to conceive. Somehow, feeling so small feels grand and feeling grand breeds laughter and silliness.

To be honest, most days I’d rather spend holding hands with my wife or catching a fish or just sitting around a fire with a friend or three as opposed to “doing something important”. Accomplishment seems so powerful in the moment, but at the end of my journey I don’t see it mattering much. My, there I go again. The serious just refuses to surrender the spotlight doesn’t it?

Well today, it isn’t getting it. It’s April Fools Day…a salute to pranksters and jokers and yes, just plain fools among us. Within us. So today I shall let a bit hilarity rule. I will take my work seriously but not SO seriously. I will look at all the reasons to laugh and maybe just do something for fun. Because I can. Because I am alive.

 

Categories: Mind, Miscellany, Nature, Spirit | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

First Aid Kit “Silver Lining”

First Aid Kit “Silver Lining”

I stand in awe of the soulful talent of First Aid Kit.The song fills some sort of musical hole in my being. Well done, ladies. Well done…

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