Monday, February 21, 2011


I live part-time now between the breaks of the Minam-Wallowa and Grande Ronde rivers, and part-time in town. I am now part of two communities - an upland dry pine forest with scattered scab-lands, and what was river bottom cottonwood and wet meadow area. I wonder how to welcome wildlife and encourage wild plants in my town locale, and how to care-take what is still wild on my upland locale.

I have also been thinking about the uproar over the return of wolves to this area. By the canyons, I live in a zone where all around me cattle and wildness intersect. It's a border country between the grazed foothills of the Blues, and the wilder more inaccessible canyon country stretching north towards the Wenaha-Tucannon wilderness.

For me the landscape is a wounded place without its wolves, a huge aching incompleteness. For my ancestors, the wolf was a holy icon. To see a wolf was fortunate, a blessing. My ancestors also were also cattle people, including my grandmother who called every cow on her farm by its personal name. The difference - my people loved and lived with wolves for millennia - and with cows for a mere couple thousand years. Somehow they managed to love both wolves and cows, and to have room for both.

I have read that when elk were first brought back to this area, they were equally disliked and similarly perceived as "the end of cattle ranching". We know now that the outcome included both cows and elk. Now it would seem ridiculous to demand the extirmination of all elk as necessary to save the family ranch. I expect that in the future the same will be true of wolves.

Science demonstrates that the land needs wolves, and my heart needs that promise of wolf-wildness beyond my fence.

- Danae

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