Doug Bruns

Eight minutes to wildness.

In Nature on February 24, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I went on the bird walk at the Maine Audubon Society sanctuary at Gilsland Farm this morning.  The sun was brilliant and the sky a blue so rich and deep it made my heart ache. The snow reflected the morning light and as a bird took flight it would be illuminated from below, its under-wings and breast and torso aglow. It was cold and our exhalations turned crystalline.

At one point the naturalist-guide bent down and studied the tundra. He pointed to a small pile of scat, mammalian excrement. “Berries, hair…” he said. “Probably coyote.” His comment hung in the air. It took eight minutes to drive from home to the farm. Eight minutes from city to coyote scat. Eight minutes to wildness.

There is a question posed in the marvelous book by Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild, which reads: “Where do we start to resolve the dichotomy of the civilized and the wild?” I don’t know the answer to that question, but this morning, eight minutes from home and staring into coyote scat the question was not theoritical. That is as I would have it.

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