DAY 7: BEING CARIBOU

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JULY 7 – Wolf Creek, Yukon – Month Four, Week Thirteen, and our emotions grow more raw with each distraction-free day. There is no television to fill the gaps between high points, no idle chatter, background music, or advertisements to fill the day. This being alone with oneself is painful at times, agonizing with its hidden hormonal cycles, but it is also the most profound feeling in the world. When we are high, we are soaring; when we’re low, we’re rock bottom; and the in-between times find us searching not just for caribou but for who we really are. Wildlife biologist turned dreamer and back again; a rational mind and a not-so-rational body discovering wildness for the first time. It’s as though my spirit has split – caribou-like when I’m with the animals, human-like when I’m not, crisscrossing the tundra in search of some middle ground.
If your idea of the perfect honeymoon is to follow a bunch of snorting, stinking, rude and utterly magnificent mammals on foot across the Yukon for five months, this will be right up your alley. Published in 2006, Being Caribou brought attention to the plight of the Porcupine caribou herd, which was and continues to be menaced by big oil develop projects. The book documents the incredible journey of wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer and his new bride as they accompanied the herd on skis and walking. What they documented became much more than a trek: it was also a tremendous journey of the mind in which they became aware that there are other types of consciousness than our everyday human tendency to see the earth as a larder filled with resources to be exploited.
I would like to see this book become required reading in schools. We all need to wake up to the reality that economy is not the most important issue in this country, to the exclusion of everything else. Before we destroy everything in the environment that isn’t a resource that we can sell, we need to learn to understand that the land and the things that grow and live on it have value in and of themselves.
To read more about Heuer, see his website: http://www.necessaryjourneys.ca/
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