animal realm

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    Many Mansions Paid Member

    On a summer hike to the disturbingly named Grave Creek in western Montana, the nearer I draw toward the summit, the steeper and slower the going gets. The boulders are immense—room-sized—and an intriguing verse in the Bible comes to mind: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Maybe it’s just the translation, but I’ve never thought that sentence was meant to convey “My old man is an opulent dude, he lives in a big house, you should join his religion, it comes with lots of schwag.” A common interpretation holds that the statement suggests there are different ways to inhabit that mansion and that there is no shortage of availability. But like all great metaphors, it surely encompasses other layers, meanings, and discoveries. More »
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    Fitted Beauty Paid Member

    We’ve been seeing elephant tracks for so long, and in so many places, that it’s almost as if we’ve stopped thinking about the animals that made the tracks, and have become accustomed instead to perceiving the animal only through its tracks. I’m not saying an elephant is a deity, but it is surely an Other. You can look so hard for clues to the nature of a thing’s existence that you forget how to see. More »
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    In Namibia Paid Member

    We’re driving the Land Cruiser down a dry riverbed. All week we’ve been tracking rhinos, up in the heartless desert above, following the miracle of them, but today we have left their country—one of the driest places on earth, the Namib Desert, where only an inch or two of rain might fall each year—and we’re cruising the sand-wash beneath the cool shade of mopane trees, looking at elephants, giraffes, oryx. More »
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    Years of Salmon Paid Member

    There were salmon here once, in Montana, before a deep change occurred. There is still the alchemy of leaping, gleaming wild trout in Montana, but I believe there used to be salmon—oceangoing salmon. It’s a little-known fact, yet one that anyone who’s interested in exploring the history of the garden could discover.There are texts that predate ours.In certain forests, far up in the mountains, where the little creeks rush wild as they emerge from their dramatic headwaters, there are a few boulders that bear the etchings of the first humans who were here, perhaps back before the ice closed in and collapsed over the rivers in temporary dams. The petroglyphs show men in the river netting enormous fish—salmon—in the midst of wild rivers where salmon were never known to exist. As if back then a secret passage to the sea existed. More »
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    The Burning Present Paid Member

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    If the Dalai Lama Were a Fisherman Paid Member

    I was in Hawaii, working on a story about whales—a big story, about big animals and the people who are drawn to them, a story that’s going to take months to write—and while out on the boat one windless day, heat-struck amid the shimmering blue, with whales singing and groaning far below, I was seized with an image of the Dalai Lama riding in the bow of a drift boat belonging to my friend Tim (an Orvis Endorsed Guide Conservationist of the Year) down the mighty Kootenai River of northwest Montana, my home. I don’t know if His Holiness fishes or not. It takes a lot of time, so I would think perhaps not, but then again its essence is focus and patience, so perhaps he does; or if not, perhaps he might like it. More »