Anchored firmly in two places Ray has called home—Montana and southern Georgia—the sixteen essays here span a landscape from Alaska to Central America, connecting common elements in the ecosystems of people and place. One of her abiding griefs is that she has missed the sights of explorers like Bartram, Sacagawea, and Carver: flocks of passenger pigeons, routes of wolves, herds of bison. She craves a wilder world and documents encounters that are rare in a time of disappearing habitat, declining biodiversity, and a world too slowly coming to terms with climate change.
In an age of increasingly virtual, urban life, Ray embraces the intentionality of trying to be a better person balanced with seeking out natural spectacle, abundance, and less trammeled environments. She questions what it means to travel into the wild as a woman, speculates on the impacts of ecotourism and travel in general, questions assumptions about eating from the land, and appeals to future generations to make substantive change.
Wild Spectacle explores our first home, the wild earth, and invites us to question its known and unknown beauties and curiosities.
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|Publisher:||Trinity University Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)|
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Preface: Out beyond houses and mailboxes, roads and bridges, a person can see a realm that exists alongside this world in which we humans live. I say again, another world flanks the constructed world. Often the view from ours is skewed, as through fractile glass, limited by narrow apertures of scope and crack, the view fleeting. We can’t see it on demand. In the wild world, relationship is evolutionary, time is geologic, beauty is intelligent. There we find ourselves under a powerful spell. Although I was reared on a junkyard by parents who did not waste time hiking or camping, I knew pine trees and pitcher plants, bobcats and brown thrashers, as my people. I understood wild things as beings with intentions, foremost a searing desire to live pleasant, fulfilling lives. Once the storyteller Joseph Bruchac told me about people to whom animals were attracted, to whom animals listened. Later I met such a person, an Abenaki man named O’annes. He visited environmental studies classes at a university where I briefly taught, and my colleagues described to me an odd thing that often occurred during O’annes’s visits. Sitting outside with students, on the green or by the lake, animals would ease up to listen to him. It might be a heron or a squirrel, alligator or turtle. When O’annes visited my own class, I saw this phenomenon. A black racer came sliding along with its head out of the mown grass, circling behind O’annes before hunkering down, as if to listen. The essays in this book are about the desire to immerse myself in the varied wild, to survey the territory of wildness, to be wild, and, perhaps, to become the kind of person who listened to animals and to whom animals listened. I explore places of natural spectacle and abundance, the less mitigated and trammeled the better. Because I was born in the twentieth century, I have missed many wonders that mavericks like Bartram, Carver, Crazy Horse, Muir, Sacajawea, and Tubman (indeed, anyone able to notice such things) saw—flocks of passenger pigeons, routes of red wolves, sloths of bears. I mourn that loss. On the other hand, I have seen wonders that others will be unable to see. I have, in my luckiest moments, lived heart-pounding flashes of natural spectacle. learners, and especially as passers-through, because in the grandest scheme we are all visitors, just visiting this planet, death the trackless wilderness to be explored. Here is what I found, what I saw, what I heard, what I thought, and what I learned when I sojourned in the wild.