This is the view from where I sit at my desk, typing this post:
From my vantage, I count 721 windows but only 13 trees. Actually, I didn’t count the windows (but I did count the trees). There were just too many, which should serve to reinforce the point: I am surrounded by humanity, by a world of human infrastructure, of human creation.
My view includes a couple schools, a police department, a power plant, several churches, restaurants, and a parking garage. There are advantages to living this way (convenience, stimulation). But there are costs. Among those, I count abstraction from the natural environment very highly. My view of the river is obstructed by many, many apartment buildings.
Jay Schoenberger, compiler of I AM COYOTE, is my best camping buddy. Before he left the east coast, he and I would periodically escape whatever cities we were living in and meet for a long weekend of backpacking at a mountain range half way between (the White Mountains, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Adirondacks to name a few). While these trips were often too short to go as deep into the wilderness experience as the writings describe in I AM COYOTE, as deep as Jay’s formative experiences in NOLS, there was undoubtedly a therapeutic aspect to them for me.
On those trips, Jay would always bring along a fire starter: a worn printed out passage from McKibben or Stegner or Dillard, sealed in a Ziploc bag. After stimulating so many good conversations deep in the woods, Jay has bound these passages and shared them with us all. I AM COYOTE is a book I’ll be throwing in my backpack for future trips, trips that reconnect me with the natural world from which I spring, trips that remind me of the importance of time spent in the wilderness that exists beyond the bounds of my man-made environment.