Filed in Environment

Lost in the Woods

Encounters near the borderRick Bass

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Animal RealmThe lovely midafternoon call of an olive-sided fly-catcher serenades my passage through these shadows, as they have for all the years, all the summers that I have been passing through these forests. It’s calling, I know, from some more light-filled place—a break in the canopy, a stream’s edge, a small meadow. The bird’s call keeps me company as I move slowly forward, crawling over giant fallen logs, slipping between spiky branches, inserting myself ever deeper into the heart of the basin. I’m bushwhacking through my home, northwest Montana, less than a mile from Canada. Not a single species has gone extinct in this wild little valley since the retreat of the last Ice Age. This matters hugely to me. I understand the importance of accepting impermanence, but just because I understand it doesn’t mean I’m any good at it.

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