- animal rights
- climate change
- Defenders of Wildlife
- Earth Day
- Edward Abbey
- Endangered Species Act
- Firehole River
- Grand Tetons
- Green River
- Heart Lake
- Idaho Department of Fish and Game
- loon calls
- Marie Dressler
- mental health
- Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks
- national parks
- solar system
- the Bible
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- the holocaust
- Turner Classic Movies
- U.S. Department of the Interior
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- W.O.L.F. Sanctuary
- wild wolf encounters
- wolf hunting
- Wolf Lake
- wolf management
- World War II
- Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Wild Wolf Encounters
Songs for a Beloved Friend
The Barred Door
Fire cyclone explodes across me:
I am harshly bruised.
Scorched life fills my senses.
Shock blankets me.
Does part of me still live?
I wake for moments
and sleep again.
I dream of leaves rustling.
I dream of sun’s caress.
I remember snows’ shield
and spring’s awakening,
the bloom within me lying ready
for rain’s gift
for abundance, ever changing.
I remember preparing for the long cold,
the sweet sleep of dormancy
different from this death coma
I feel the weight of heavy hooves
searching for buds and bark,
of paws scratching for insects.
Providing sustenance was my life’s purpose.
Tortured soil fills me with sorrow.
taking solace and comfort
leaving nothing but the faint glimmer of birdsong
and the broken remnants of peace.
In the early evening of October 21, the East Troublesome fire roared through our remote and wild forest in the mountains west of Granby, Colorado. In a few hours, the fire’s size increased from ~12,000 acres to 170,000. Intense heat and ferocious winds fueled the spread into Rocky Mountain National Park and over the continental divide up to the town of Estes Park, CO.
Our 80 acres of remote and wild beauty was incinerated in moments. Painful to visit and challenging to comprehend. This was not a particularly dry season. The winter brought ample snow, spring was moist and lush, and rain came almost every day in summer. Until late July. In prior years, August would bring a change of season – more moisture and cooler temperatures. By then, one could heave a sigh of hopeful relief that the risk of fire had diminished significantly. Not this year.
These pictures show late-September’s beauty, aspen in full splendor. A week later, leaves were falling. The beauty was softer, less spectacular, as the land prepared for winter. And a few photos show the land in its present state. The smell of fire lingers; the soil’s power to generate growth at 9,000’ elevation depends upon the length of time fire burned hot on the land. We will not know the answer for some period.
green water gleaming
enriches the soil
nourishes the senses
broadens the land
focuses and quiets the mind.
Above 2 images courtesy of
Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Last weekend we visited Browns Park in northwest Colorado, one of the most remote places in the state, and possibly in the U.S. as well. Browns Park is located on the Green River, a sublime and mind-bending body of water. Wolves have re-introduced themselves there: here’s some wolf scat to prove it.
A short drive from our campsite is Dinosaur National Monument’s Gates of Lodore, with its stunning and close-up views of the river.Just the trip to sooth and settle the spirit upset by covid, wildfire, and the upcoming election.
Bill Maher speaks out about wild animal markets, trafficking in wild animals, and our system of raising and slaughtering animals for food: “Big AG”. He says what I have been waiting to hear from someone whose voice can be heard loud and clear. God bless you, Bill Maher.
Just some of what Maher has to say. Powerful to hear it all straight from him:
Torturing animals is what got us into this mess. That’s the lesson we keep refusing to learn: that you can’t trash the environment, including animals. and not have it come back and kill YOU!
America’s factory farming is just as despicable as a wet market and just as problematic for our health. Factory farms have a lot more lobbyists, but ecological time bombs tick the same. …. Most, if not all, infectious diseases are zoonotic, meaning they start in animals and jump to humans.
We have “Ag Gag” laws that make it a crime to report the crime — and it is a crime — of animal abuse that goes on in our food industry.
If we keep producing food the way we do, you are going to get sick with something medicine cannot fix. You don’t have to care for the sake of the animals. I wouldn’t want to mess with anyone’s reputation as a heartless asshole.
Animal cruelty leads to human catastrophe.
There’s no such thing as keeping a wild animal pent up, but treating them well.
People should take their meandering outrage and focus it on this issue: You keep animals in cages, be they tigers or turkeys, and look who winds up being the prisoner.
Americans: Who are We and How do We Define Ourselves?
Hints from the movies: The Devil and Daniel Webster, 1941
Synopsis: A farmer sells his soul for seven years of good luck, good crops, and the money and power that flow therefrom. When time comes to pay up or give the Devil his son, he asks Daniel Webster to intervene. Daniel Webster, quoted on my passport, was the American statesman, orator, lawyer, and influential definer of what it means to be an American.
Cast: Walter Huston, my favorite actor (along with Jimmy Stewart) as a perfect Devil; Edward Arnold as Daniel Webster; and John Craig as the poor schmoe who realizes his mistake almost too late.
In the climactic scene, where the farmer is on trial for his soul, Webster and the Devil duke it out before a jury of 12 dead and unsavory Americans (including Benedict Arnold) who have also sold their souls. If Webster cannot convince them, he will be lost as well. (The Devil sets all the rules.)
The dialogue includes interesting language from 1941 on the wrongs Americans have perpetrated to gain their perceived entitlements:
Webster: ….But you shan’t have this man. A man isn’t a piece of property. Mr. Stone is an American citizen, and an American citizen cannot be forced into the service of a foreign prince.
Devil: Foreign!? You calling me a foreigner?
Webster: I never heard of you claiming American citizenship.
Devil: And who with a better right? When the first wrong was done to the first Indian, I was there. When the first slaver put up in the Congo, I stood on the deck. Am I still not spoken of in every church in New England? It’s true, the North claims me for a Southerner, and the South for a Northerner, but I’m neither. To tell the truth, Mr. Webster, though I don’t like to boast of it, my name is older in the country than yours.
We rarely hear about wrongs done to native peoples or are asked to imagine the first ship arriving in Africa to enslave human cargo. Would the jury acquit?
(See photo copyright and usage license information below.)
After We Are Gone
Will rivers wander ancient routes,
nurturing hills and valleys of their youth?
Will flowers extend scented tendrils
at the sound of bees buzzing?
Will the land bless its freedom
from concrete and steel,
from tarmac and depredation?
Will the earth forgive our desecrations?
Will a boundless carpet
of green trees, tall and shapely,
cool and purify the air with ease?
Will birds sing for joy
and bats fly free
from live wild animal markets?
Will whales cavort in clean water
for sheer bliss?
Will wolves reclaim their birthright?
Will rocks still pulse their seismic rhythms
to the beat of the human heart?*
Will the breeze blow sweet again?
Will any living creature
remember us with regret?
Except for part of one stanza, I wrote this poem before the pandemic.
*Listen to Castleton Tower vibrate. It’s very calming.
Photo of Castleton Tower and The Rectory taken April 19, 2017 by copyright holder Ron Clausen. I made no changes.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
Marie Dressler, as Carlotta in Dinner at Eight (1934), reminiscing about her past life as a super-star of the New York stage, and why she can’t return to live in the city:
No, everything’s changed. I couldn’t stand it here. I’d die.
I belong to the Delmonico* period. Ahh, a table at the window, looking out on Fifth Avenue; boxes with flowers in; pink lampshades; string orchestras; and, I don’t know, yes — yes, willow blooms … dry champagne; and snow on the ground. — Say, they don’t even have snow any more!
Dressler isn’t the only one who notices things changing about the weather decades before there was a label to go with the change. In Denver, a desert climate, we used to have dew on the grass in the early mornings, even the hottest. After many years living here, the dew faded and came no more. I wondered. Wondered for years. Figured I would someday find out why and surmised I wouldn’t like the explanation. I don’t.
As twenty-somethings, my husband and I visited Yellowstone several times in the winter. We stayed in a rustic cabin – and I do mean rustic — where the entire inside length of the door would be encrusted with several inches of ice in the morning. We cross-country skied during the day, and had to keep moving. The temperature would rise to minus thirty degrees at mid-day. A stop for lunch was quick; we sat on our packs to protect us from the cold. One didn’t dare remove a glove for very long to eat.
I check Yellowstone’s weather and temperature religiously. It NEVER gets to minus thirty. Never ever. Even as a low in the coldest months. I don’t like this, either.
There are many other things I don’t like about global warming. You know what it means. What I dislike almost the most is that we are doing nothing about it. No leadership. No will. Perhaps that can change. Perhaps the universe is sending us a message: ENOUGH! Perhaps we will start to pay attention.
*Patrons of Delmonico’s included Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Nikola Tesla, Edward VII as Prince of Wales, and Napolean III.
Returning to One
Knowing from the inside out —
the black bear’s dreams
during winter’s quiet —
the feel of face
tucked to living fur —
the movements while sleeping
the warmth of life slow-breathing
the rise and fall of consciousness
the sustained or short awakening
to smells’ potent greeting
and hunger’s rhythmic panging —
with unsteady rise and wobbly first steps
we receive the spring as one,
the living other.