February 1, 2017

The Wilderness

There are wild things in the wild lands behind my home. The blob in the middle of the photo on the bank was a dark brown mammal the size of a large house cat. At first I thought it was a river otter, but it was not.
Not sure what it was, besides amazing to see.

There is no place more simple, more basic and more real than the wilderness. Wherever I have lived I  have made sure that some form of wild area was close at hand as a refuge from the concrete and craziness. Somewhere I could experience total silence, total dark, unfettered nature, and wildlife.

What qualifies as wilderness depends on who is looking. An argument could probably be made that there is no true wilderness left, but I have personally experienced some amazing places far from the herd. I have hiked into remote mountain wilderness areas, but even there it only takes one jet to fly over to remind you that civilization is never farther away than just above your head.

Behind my new home is a forest-covered slope that descends into a valley wilderness with a beautiful brook at the bottom. The forest has all the hallmarks of an old growth ecosystem, and walking or snowshoeing through it is as wild and primitive as it gets.

Most definitions of "wilderness" mean something like "a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by civilized human activity".  From what I can see, my backyard forest fits this definition, although I do not know the history of this part of the world, which goes back several hundred years.

While hiking in the forest, which extends unbroken for kilometres in every direction, I had the good fortune to have a sighting of a small wild mammal by the brook. It was more evidence that this is wild land, and wild creatures are living here successfully. I love to know that such a wild community exists where I live.

The creature I saw is a member of the weasel family, but which one, I am not sure. I like to think that it could be a pine marten, or a fisher, two species that are rare in these parts. Both of those species require old growth forests and wild lands to live happily. Given that this is a large tract of exactly what these animals need, it makes sense that it could be one of them.

As I crouched by the rushing brook watching the dark brown animal move stealthily along the bank, I felt a deep connection to both this land and the things that live here. I can understand completely the pine marten, fisher, and other living things that need wild areas unaffected by the long reach of the civilized world.

To thrive, I do too.


  1. I really like your blog. Keep up the good work!

  2. Anonymous2/01/2017

    There isn't much wilderness in the UK. We do take a annual trip to the cairngorms, which helps to recharge us. There is reclaimed mining land near by that is good for a run and some among the trees.
    Agree with J C Bradshaw, great blog.

    1. Have you read 'Feral' by George Monbiot? Well worth a look :)

    2. Anonymous2/03/2017

      Haven't read Feral. It's on my list. Have read Captive State and quite a lot of his journalism. The idea makes a lot of sense.

    3. Anonymous2/03/2017

      I haven't read his book, not yet but I visit his blog. Well worth a look. The Golden Arches of Theory of Decline and Unlucky Number highly recommend. Saffron

  3. It's such a joy to be in nature and see a creature that you don't know what it is. It causes me to connect to who I am, the wild part of me. I believe the wild is still in our DNA. I kind of become wild-like when I'm in a deep wood. Just watch. Be really still and feel the wild life surrounds me. Living things are just going about the business of living. Equipped with what they are born with; instinct and what their parents taught them, maybe what other creatures taught them and what they learn as they go along.

    I used to do a sit spot routine, going out someplace in nature and just sitting. Amazing how many creatures will happen by. At times my sit spot has been my very small back yard area. I think I'll get back to that practice.

    A forest that extends as far as the one outside your back door is bound to be filled with a lot of creatures you don't know about. Makes me think maybe I don't have to know everything and it's still wonderful!

    Very nice post. I love the new NBA banner with the brook running in between snow covered banks. Lovely.


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