Thinking Like a Mountain

This time of year, when winter is creeping in, I see the squirrels rushing to gather nuts for the cold months of winter. I think about other creatures fending for themselves in the cold months. In particular, I think about wolves.

Wolves are a top predator out there in the wild. They are hated by humans who raise animals (like cattle and sheep) for a living – because the ranchers’ cash crops are a ready source of food for a starving predator like a wolf or mountain lion. But there is another side to the story – the necessity of the wolf to the circle of life. Every living thing is born, must eat to survive, and must die. The wolf plays a role in life in the wild, that of helping to keep other wild populations in check.

One of my favorite pieces about wolves is a passage written by Aldo Leopold, “Thinking Like a Mountain.” With credit to that great conservationist, I’ve reprinted some passages from that great essay here.

Thinking Like A Mountain

“A deep chesty bawl echoes from rimrock to rimrock, rolls down the mountain, and fades into the far blackness of the night. It is an outburst of wild defiant sorrow and of contempt for all the adversities of the world.

“Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to that call. To the deer it is a reminder of the way of all flesh, to the pine a forecast of midnight scuffles and of blood upon the snow, to the coyote a promise of gleanings to come, to the cowman a threat of red ink at the bank, to the hunter a challenge of fang against bullet. Yet behind these obvious and immediate hopes and fears there lies a deeper meaning, known only to the mountain itself. Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.”

Can you listen objectively to the howl of the wolf, look deeper into its true purpose on this planet, think past the human reaction to its resistance?

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