And that is what the night is
Good writing and moving thoughts. I loved this: "It is a measure of our modern arrogance to assume we have it so much better than anyone else ever has just because we know so little about them, isn’t it? Thank you.
So beautiful and powerful and heart-rending. "I suggest it was more inhabited then than now, as people were far more attentive to the land every moment of every day than we are, with some exceptions, because they had to be." I feel this every time I go out to that place, and every step of ground where I live. How much less most of the people know about the land they're on, and how little they (we) understand. How much more it could all be. How much more it all is.
"I feel in my bones the absence of those nonhuman relatives, plant and animal alike, that we shared the world with for millennia that are no longer in this place. It is a vast and appalling loss. It certainly wasn’t a perfect world then but I’m not on board with too much praise for much of what we’ve evolved to either."
You wreak good havoc on my heart and my mind.
Paddling trips like that one saved me as a teenager and college student. It's a profound experience.
Thank you for this. It's such a gift to experience a fleeting, transcendental moment like a good reading, or reflection circle, or another similar context. I wish we collectively made more room for those shared time-spaces; until then, their rarity makes them feel even more special when they do unfold.
"Early in the morning of the first day the canoe containing a professional naturalist AND the burly wannabe might have misidentified a riverside ranch llama as an elk .." << Reminds me of a time in the Rockies in Colorado when my sister in law gleefully pointed out a 'donkey' just off the trail (i.e. a yearling moose. everyone made it out unscathed)
“It is a measure of our modern arrogance to assume we have it so much better than anyone else ever has just because we know so little about them, isn’t it?” 💓
Thank you, Chris. I hope to attend one of these. I'm not attuned to suffering yet. I mean, I just face-planted on my bike to avoid a whitetail deer, and hit the weight pile today anyway, but fifty years of comfortable sleep is difficult to break. I camped for a week this year, and went kayaking, and part of those were preparation for joining you on one of these experiences. It's something that millions of people don't do every day. I used to live without A/C, now it's "unthinkable" to many... it's the real world. Open a window. jfc.
The blue of the river in the last photo of your post is breathtaking.
Such beauty--the lightning, the eagles, that gorgeous petroglyph. There is so much in what you say with this: "Strangers come into this land, encounter a local just trying to live a life, and slay them out of hand when sharing the landscape would have been just as easy." I'm so often struck by people who live up here and have no understanding of the land, its history, its peoples, its animals and instead feel like they have license to kill as soon as they are out--how so often people who do not grow up hunting, learn to hunt and think it's some kind of license to kill whatever without compunction. It's so far from what it means to be in kinship with the lands and its inhabitants as fellow beings sharing life. It breaks my heart honestly. There is such a relationship of honor and respect for life that is fundamentally a part of being in a landscape, whether hunting or simply being a part of it with all fellow inhabitants. I will never understand that individualist conditioning that claims a right to conquer and kill, not live within, lands and all their living beauty.
I stayed in a cabin that was bigger than my house...no running water, though.
I wonder, if we were to admit, as a society, that we are merely animals, PART of the ecosystem, if it would help.
Certainly we are in things more than we admit, from the plants and animals we move around to the things we do - and don't do.
I had a long discussion once with a colleague about what the goal of "pest control" should be.
Many "pests" are introduced-or, they didn't occur "here" before. But things have always moved around. Maybe part of to be in harmony is to acknowledge change,however welcome or not, happens.
To really acknowledge it. Not just say the words.
And to admit that we can change ourselves to help stabilize the rest of the system.
We may be the only species that can.
Man, thank you.
I recall moments in classrooms where students would read - and these readings would overturn the impression I had that this (whatever I was teaching at the time) was a waste of time.
It’s disorienting and wonderful when I get it wrong like that.
I am thankful for my wrongness.
I hope it’s cooling off in your neighborhood. It has been consistently dry and hot here in Southern Oregon. But early this morning, it rained a little. Timely relief.
In the big picture, maybe cattle are just a temporary place-holder for bison? 🤞🏼
Hear, hear for more life-magnifying moments. Thanks for sharing this, Chris. 🙏
After ten years in Missoula and five years in rural Tennessee, I put in twenty years in New Mexico, living at 6000 feet above sea level at the foot of Sandia Peak (10700). In the early spring, when the sun was making its comeback, as I drove along rural one-lane back roads, I would occasionally come upon a rattlesnake basking on the warm asphalt. I would always stop and turn on my hazard lights. There was always dead wood in the high desert, so it was easy to find a ten-foot juniper branch to use to gently coax the snake off the road, because I knew that if someone else came upon that snake, they would run over it or shoot it. Over the years, I also saved a number of tarantulas from harm's way. Why did the migratory tarantula cross the road? To get from the high elevation down to the banks of the Rio Grande.
Acceptance of suffering is heavy work. Of course you’ll need to rest after it. It can’t be any other way. The only real shame is in never facing that workload.