You would be forever changed. That elk from the winter stands there on the summer evening, watching from beside the forest. It keeps its story to itself. This is not wilderness for designation or for a park. Not a scenic wilderness and not one good for fishing or the viewing of wildlife. It is wilderness that gets into your nostrils, that runs with your sweat. It is the core of everything living, wilderness like molten iron. It reminds me that nature was not made for us.
It exists, indifferent to us and our needs. It's good to be reminded.
He talks about having his camera with him on some of his adventures so I wish there were pictures. But that's just a small want on my part. The one thing that got to me, that made stop reading and almost discount everything I'd read up to then which was pretty much the whole book since I was near the end , was when he talks about squids. He says, "The largest animal on the planet is a squid, a rubbery predator that lurks in deep sea trenches. So what the hell? Is there some nuance of writing I missed there? I tried to google the error but didn't come up with anything. Okay, but other than that glaring!
Some of my other favorite quotes: Most animals show themselves sparingly. The grizzly bear is six to eight hundred pounds of smugness. It has no need to hide.
THE ANIMAL DIALOGUES: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild
If it were a person, it would laugh loudly in quiet restaurants, boastfully wear the wrong clothes for special occasions, and probably play hockey. Some suggest that they hitched on ice floes of the Northeast coast, and I imagine all the ice floes that missed land, coyotes going out to sea, never heard from again.
I have seen their eyes in the creosote bushes and among mesquite trees. They have watched me. And all the times that I saw no eyes, that I kept walking and never knew, there were still coyotes. When I have seen them trot away, when I have stepped from the floorboard of my truck, leaned on the door, and watched them as they watched me over their shoulders, I have been aware for that moment of how much more there is.
Of how I have only seen only an instant of a broad and rich life. I absolutely fell in love with this collection of essays. The piercing, understated style of Childs' writing took my breath away with every description of meeting or observing an animal in the wild, some merely curious encounters and some very nearly life-threatening. There is an organic poetic sensibility in his writing as well, one that demonstrates his understanding not only of animal nature, but of nature in general and our place in it. His philosophy and imagery hearken to that expressed by I absolutely fell in love with this collection of essays.
His philosophy and imagery hearken to that expressed by Antoine de St. Exupery in Wind, Sand, and Stars, another of my beloved favorites.
Upon rereading part of this last year, I found myself a bit more sensitive to some references to animal deaths or treatment, nothing overtly cruel or outside common carnivorousness, but Childs does not mince words. Something for similarly sensitive readers to be aware of, but by no means a reason to avoid this incredible book. Nov 28, T. This book is a recounting of the author's encounters with animals, from wasps and mosquitoes to blue sharks and bears. The writing is evocative and reflective, peppered with nuggets of information on the astonishing quirks and capacities of the various creatures he writes about.
Still, there are a couple of things that reduced the charm of what would have otherwise been intimate and memorable portraits. One, the author and his sweaty-backpacking-through-the-wilderness-all-geared-up narrative int This book is a recounting of the author's encounters with animals, from wasps and mosquitoes to blue sharks and bears.
One, the author and his sweaty-backpacking-through-the-wilderness-all-geared-up narrative intrudes into the portrayal a bit more than one would have wished for. Second, when he writes about bear and shark and other predators, there is bit too much about fear and danger, of predatory power and pursuit, and the risk of attack and death.
All the adrenalin reads concocted and imaginary in encounters that may have been little more than the jaguar or mountain lion or shark trying to get on with its life and out of the way of the annoying human who seemed to like turning up in places that were perfectly wild and perfectly safe until he showed. Child's curiosity and perceptiveness translates into compelling words, yet his penchant of trying to get up-close and personal--reaching out to touch a pronghorn fawn in hiding, chasing elk, touching wasps--reveals an intrusive streak.
Yet, this is a book worth reading, the two short pieces 'Broad-tailed Hummingbird' and 'Deer' are stellar. Feb 04, Nathan rated it it was ok Shelves: If all it took to write a good book was experience, this book would be awesome.
Unfortunately, Childs' only advantage is that he managed to get close to some wild animals. His prose is bland, and his book his the literary equivalent of background music. May 07, Anna rated it really liked it. Good animal encounter stories. Lots of natural history. It's the kind of book you and pick up any time. Each chapter is like a short story. Nov 28, Bec rated it liked it. The passage about the ravens was interesting, I just couldn't shake the dog off. I did read most of it. Nov 25, Duane rated it it was ok Shelves: For anyone who actually lives out among the wild critters, this is either a howler or a groaner, depending on the chapter.
By the time I got done I was really torqued at the Jaguar for not having eaten the author while he had the chance, on all of our behalves. Jan 21, Kurtbg rated it liked it Shelves: This book houses a collection of an outdoorsman's animal encounters. He weaves in scientific, historic, and sometimes animals legend to educate as well as entertain the reader - as is most common in books of this type see any cat or dog book. It's easy to treat animals as a general abstract. Over time reduced to the ability of pointing and identifying an animal as in a zoo.
That doesn't do the animal justice. I find books of this type help break through to let you know there's something more goi This book houses a collection of an outdoorsman's animal encounters. I find books of this type help break through to let you know there's something more going whether it be about science, politics, psychology, history or the field of zoology. In a cubicled and structured society that reduces the boundaries of animals I find these books important reminders of the vibrancy of life, and that which exists that we choose to ignore.
The author has a driving need to connect and experience the outdoors and animals. I was a surprised he was married and had children for all the outdoor living and activities he describes. It is rare to share a stare with an elk, grizzly, mountain lion and shark. There is an acknowledgement of what the other is and that mirrors back and allows for self reflection.
What them am I? Prey, predator, inconsequential see the story on Bighorn sheep? He has a number of a books and I believe this is his latest at the time. I wonder why he chose this theme now and not earlier as he obviously had the material. I enjoyed the experiences he had with a mountain lion, raccoon, jaguar,and a murder of crows. I will probably look into his other writings. This was a wonderful book-- and though I read it a while ago, looking back I can't imagine why I ever gave it only 4 stars.
Though I shall preserve my past thoughts and opinions, even if I might not agree with them now, I must say this is a truly beautiful book. The writing is simple, quiet, like a shimmering white snowfall in the silence of the wilderness, but it shines with a hidden lusciousness that makes it thoroughly enjoyable to read, especially when the quiet pitter patter of the rain com This was a wonderful book-- and though I read it a while ago, looking back I can't imagine why I ever gave it only 4 stars.
The writing is simple, quiet, like a shimmering white snowfall in the silence of the wilderness, but it shines with a hidden lusciousness that makes it thoroughly enjoyable to read, especially when the quiet pitter patter of the rain comes in through the window. The experiences he held with the various animals throughout the book, as well as simple but breathtaking descriptions of their beauty, are interesting at times, wildly entertaining at other times, and sometimes frightening and suspenseful. All we have to follow are animal trails, faint inclinations left by elk or deer or bear that passed through.
Even squat clearings left by waddling porcupines come in handy. They are all short- lived, ending as suddenly as they began, putting us back in thick trees where birds send warnings ahead of us, criers calling through green crowns. I crawl under a toppled tree, and my nose grazes the ground. I smell leaf rot and animals. It is the odor of spices in an earthy, slightly unpalatable dish: This is the other side of the coin from the rest of my life, from doors and walls and movie screens.
This is the place that does not belong to humans. Animals have scuffed the ground, shat upon it, cleared twigs out of the way, folded down grass in their sleeping. They are talking, leaving messages written in scents on leaves and tree bark, whistling to one another, hearing voices in the distance. As we move, a deer bounds away, stabbing its hooves into the ground with punctuated sounds.
Only the tips of its fawn- colored ears are visible over ferns and serviceberry bushes. We look for the deer, but it is gone that fast, vanished back into the folds. After that, a gray jay sails in and lands on a branch to see who we are, its soft, inquisitive eyes following us. I feel as if we are dragging tin cans into the wilderness, startling animals from their many private gardens. A little farther comes a sound like the weight of an elk crashing through dead branches.
My friend and I freeze, both listening and wondering if the weight of an elk might also sound like the weight of a mountain lion. I step up on top of a rotten stump, and see nothing. By this age I was accustomed to going out with no adult supervision. My mother had tried Little League on me, and a goofy local version of Boy Scouts, but in the end she just had to shoo me out the door and send me hiking.
Both my parents took their own, separate interest in wild places - my father building great fires and showing me the taste of whiskey on cold Arizona mornings, and my mother lightly tramping the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming, picnicking atop slender timberline ridges.
With such parents I learned not to fear wild animals, only to know they are there. We come into a stand of old-growth trees where Douglas fir and short-needled spruce muscle their way toward the light. No longer is there ground to walk on, only decades of huge trees downed from windstorms and disease. We balance across trunks as big around as cars, fifteen feet off the ground, and follow each other down into warrens of shattered debris. We do not know that a large predator is watching us from only a few feet away. We do not know we are blithely stepping into its territory.
We know nothing until it leaps. A rush of motion and sound explodes from between fallen trunks directly beneath our feet. Blood jacks straight into our muscles. Not once do we look down, not even glimpsing the color of this creature. It is large, something with strong lungs. I can hear its claws grinding dead wood. In the Sonora Desert, Childs serenades a coyote with a flute. Flying alongside a bald eagle in Alaska, he imagines what it would be like to step outside the plane and soar next to the bird.
The Animal Dialogues : NPR
In the Utah desert, he happens upon a small canyon with ravens perched along the walls, celebrating their recent kill of an owl. On a shoreline in Baja, California, he watches a blue shark purposely beach itself in an apparent suicide. For a number of years, he had no official residence or phone number, sleeping in the back of his truck, a tipi, or under the stars.