Saturday, January 09, 2016

The Call of the Wild

All my life, the wilderness has called my name.

My young life was spent camping and hiking, swimming and walking the woods and rivers and lakes of Oregon.  That included yearly trips to Malheur Wildlife refuge.  We were there when the Columbus Day storm hit in 1962.  I was so little, but I remember how the ducks would fly and fly and never get anywhere because of the high winds.  We drove home through that storm.

As kids we stood at the very end of the jetty at the beach, as waves broke over us.  We'd go back to the car wet to the skin and sandy.

We built forts in the woods and beach houses out of drift wood.  We learned how to make campfires and put them out so they'd never cause a forest fire.

We made sand castles and dammed creeks and buried each other in the wet sand.

We built a raft once, out of driftwood, and were on it when the tide turned and began carrying us out.  My parents, busy with friends on the beach, finally noticed, and screamed at us to jump and swim.  We did.  My older brother was the last to abandon the raft.  I still remember looking back to see him in his gold colored coat as he flung himself off the raft.  We made it.

We camped in the rain, always it was raining.

I grew up to move to Alaska and live in a tiny shack on a bluff overlooking Resurrection Bay, and climbed mountains alone and hiked the wilderness trails up there.

I was a backpacker, a hiker, a camper, a lover of the wild.

I still am, although shackled by poverty and circumstance.  My every fiber belongs to the wild places of Oregon.

Oregon wildness is under attack, by out of state militants, with demands that public lands be returned to private ownership.  My heart flutters in a panic unfamiliar.  How could anyone want to take land belonging to all of us and hand it over to a few?  Who would benefit?  A very few people.  Who would lose?  The rest of us wild things.

Our lives are already very controlled and confined.  We're crowded into tiny spaces we often don't even own.  We walk sidewalks and city streets, or drive them to private businesses where we are also completely controlled by their rules.  We can't step off the city sidewalk or county road because we then are on private property and trespassers.   Our only freedom resides out there, in public lands.

There we can camp and hike or fish or hunt or build a campfire, or climb a hill or swim in real water, not in a chemical slushee pool.

Do you want your freedom taken away?  Do you want further confined by fences?   Is that your freedom?

It's not my idea of freedom.  My heart flutters nights to think of it all going away.  And the confinement worse.  The freedom gone.

I understand people have different opinions.   Freedom to some is being free to make more money.  And that's about it.   Are there things more valuable?

I am likely considered a heretic for even asking if there's something more valuable than money, sitting here in America, where money is God, King, Queen and the making it of it, as much of it as possible, every Americans birth duty.

The majority of us will never make much money in our entire lives.  We are properly punished for this deficit.    Should we, the middle and lower classes, of America, settle for our fate, as slaves of the money machine?

Go to work, come home, flop on the couch, watch inane TV shows, repeat, repeat, repeat.   Nowhere to go, unless there is something you need to buy, because everywhere is private property.

The wildlife refuge takeover people, lets call them militants to be kind, want to take public land, that belongs to all of us, and give it over to a few.   After Malheur, if no one intervenes, they will be emboldened, and maybe takeover other national heritages, like Crater Lake and demand they be turned over too, to private owners.

Where will that leave you and me?   Where will we go to escape our controlled confined lives then?

I love public lands.   They belong to you and me, all of us, not "him" or "her".

Tyranny has many faces.  Right now, I see its face at Malheur.


  1. No arguments.
    The wild places should indeed belong to us all.

    1. Yes, and in that area, sometimes it seems like the ranchers want everything. They get thousands in subsidies for this and that, plus cheap grazing on public land. But it's not enough. The Hammonds, who set fires and were sentenced for it, got almost $300,000 in a little over ten years in federal money for this and that. That is a lot of money, would be to the rest of us anyhow. Not loans, free money, over a quarter million in free federal money.

  2. Beautifully expressed and written.

  3. And then when you throw the Native Americans into the mix, it gets really interesting.
    I agree with Andrew. You expressed you feelings very well.

    1. Yes, since their treaty, giving up that land in Harney County, was never ratified. they have the true claim to the land. I intend to watch the documentary "A River Between Us", which documents an effort by all vested interests in that area to come together for an agreement. According to the last governor, in a clip I saw of the documentary, "No one is at fault, it was all over allocated". Government employees in that part of Oregon routinely get death threats, was also stated in the clip.