First Wildness

I grew up in a city, downtown, surrounded, for the most part, by concrete and asphalt. My mother raised four children alone. She lived to work and then came home each day to close herself within her walls with occasional wanderings through the yard. We did not own a car, so we depended on city buses and taxis to take us about. The only opportunity I had to view wildlife was at the city zoo or on television. My brother and I rode our bicycles to the City Zoo early on Saturday mornings and then raced home before it got dark that evening. We spent many summer days roaming through exotic botanical gardens and seeing creatures we could never have imagined. We watched Marlin Perkins, the Craigheads and Jim Fowler on TV. We watched Disney. My brother expertly trapped pigeons and kept them as pets in coops in our backyard. I fed them. There were often houses scheduled for demolition somewhere in the neighborhood and I would take my wagon and collect plants from the yards before they were destroyed. As a teen I experienced some forays to the desert, mostly to swim in the lakes but I didn't understand the beauty of the desert and so I feared it. Truly wild things were not of my world. They were in pits and cages in the zoo beyond the city limits. They were in the fearful heat of the Arizona desert. Wildlife and wilderness belonged to Marlin and Jim. They had no connection to my life.

Then, as a young adult a move to Wyoming brought me face to face with a world I did not know existed. I saw golden eagles, pronghorn and moose. I watched aspen leaves change from green to gold and followed small streams to their beginnings. My senses came alive and I learned the smells, sounds, sights, tastes and feelings of the earth. The five years I lived in Wyoming gave me a richness of life that will remain within my soul forever. The wide expanses reached into me and, for the first time, I felt my blood move through my veins. I expanded with the land and my heart and my spirit awoke with innate passions. I traveled to a time before "civilization" and viewed a land that was almost as untouched today as it had been 200 years before. I not only saw wildlife and experienced nature, but I learned its rhythms for the first time. Had the wind ever lifted my consciousness skyward before? Had the rain and snow ever smelled so sweet and been so welcome? My memories, of sitting on a city porch during a thunderstorm and smelling wet asphalt after a hot day, were fading quickly. Each day a new hunger grew within me that was only satisfied by the bounty of wildness around me. Scenes of a cow moose clumsily running through a field covered with several feet of snow scored a new melody in my brain. A thousand pronghorn moving as one body across the plains possessed me and a kinship was born.

I fished in the crystal, cold waters of the Popo-Agie with the sound of water running over the rocks and the mourning of the wind blowing through the Wind River Range. I was able to view the mountains and the cover of trees and plants like an artist working with raw natural colors. There were subtle strokes to entice the eye and brash choices of color and form to excite and enchant the viewer.

The Wyoming winds whispered to me the tales of a land before people and of people long since dead. The wind reveled and rejoiced as it collected its tales in the immense landscape around me. In the wind, I could feel the true breath of God and comprehend ever so slightly the enormity of creation. I was extracted from the self-centered environment the city had taught me to live within and became part of a whole much bigger than any group of skyscrapers.

Website Builder