I've seen a few wild grizzly bears, mostly in Alaska and British Columbia, and always from a distance. But each grizzly I've caught sight of was as fearsome and sublime as the last. You never get used to their raw power and massive bodies, or the mysterious intelligence in their dark, close-set eyes.
Love is no game. People cut their ears off over this stuff. People jump off the Eiffel Tower and sell all their possessions and move to Alaska to live with the grizzly bears, and then they get eaten and nobody hears them when they scream for help. That's right. Falling in love is pretty much the same thing as being eaten alive by a grizzly bear.
News flash: The whole thing is a huge mess and a giant nightmare and it's all about to explode in your face and you have no idea what you've gotten yourself into. Love is no game. People cut their ears off over this stuff. People jump off the Eiffel Tower and sell all their possessions and move to Alaska to live with the grizzly bears, and then they get eaten and nobody hears them when they scream for help. That's right. Falling in love is pretty much the same thing as being eaten alive by a grizzly bear. Believe me, I should know.
I was hiking a five-day loop - alone - in the Rocky Mountains when I rounded the switchback and saw a large body on the trail ahead. It had brown fur with a cinnamon tinge that was draped across dense, humped back muscle. A broad head lifted and I could see the dish-shaped muzzle was catching my scent. I knew bears. This was a grizzly.
I pictured love as a big hairy giant with a dead fish in his mouth. Grizzly bear claws and his heart half out of his chest cause it's too big and the lungs have to fit. He never stops walking. Over mountains. Through the desert. On top of icy lakes. Past huge cities. And he hunts and kills for you and always comes back with plenty to eat.
I had to weave and play around with a honey bear, you know, and I could wrestle with him a little bit, but there's no way you can even wrestle a honey bear, let alone a grizzly bear that's standing ten feet to eleven feet tall! Can you imagine? But it was fascinating to work that close to that kind of animal.
When I took my oath of office to serve as your Governor, remember, I swore to steadfastly and doggedly guard the interests of this great state like a grizzly with cubs, as a mother naturally guards her own. Alaska, as a statewide family, we've got to fight for each other, not against and not let external, sensationalized distractions draw us off course. As an exciting year of unpredictable change begins, we, too, have our work cut out for us. And we're all in this together. Just like our musk ox, they circle up to protect their future when they are challenged. We've got to do the same.
Because of their DNA, most men loved a damsel in distress. Every time a man sees a pretty lass in trouble, even the boorish slob-of-a-man transforms into a chivalrous knight-in-shining-armour. This was why most women (no matter how strong, competent or resourceful) were forced to act shy, demure and helpless so that their men could feel like strong grizzly bears or ferocious mountain lions.
The ugliest thing in America is greed, the lust for power and domination, the lunatic ideology of perpetual Growth - with a capital G. 'Progress' in our nation has for too long been confused with 'Growth'; I see the two as different, almost incompatible, since progress means, or should mean, change for the better - toward social justice, a livable and open world, equal opportunity and affirmative action for all forms of life. And I mean all forms, not merely the human. The grizzly, the wolf, the rattlesnake, the condor, the coyote, the crocodile, whatever, each and every species has as much right to be here as we do.
One day Augustus asked Newt to ride along with him, much to Newt's surprise. In the morning they saw a grizzly, but the bear was far upwind and didn't scent them. It was a beautiful day-no clouds in the sky. Augustus rode with his big rifle propped across the saddle-he was in the highest of spirits. They rode ahead of the herd some fifteen miles or more, and yet when they stopped to look back they could still see the cattle, tiny black dots in the middle of the plain, with the southern horizon still far behind them.
Tom Dancer's gift of a whitebark pine cone You never know What opportunity Is going to travel to you, Or through you. Once a friend gave me A small pine cone- One of a few He found in the scat Of a grizzly In Utah maybe, Or Wyoming. I took it home And did what I supposed He was sure I would do- I ate it, Thinking How it had traveled Through that rough And holy body. It was crisp and sweet. It was almost a prayer Without words. My gratitude, Tom Dancer, For this gift of the world I adore so much And want to belong to. And thank you too, great bear
I'd watch his smooth chest rise and fall with each steady breath, I'd watch the pulsating of his stomach when he laughed, and I'd never forget to make a comment or two about the wispy trail of grey fuzz that lined up perfectly centre with his body - and I thought that straight lines didn't exist in nature. "Look at that old man hair, " I'd say, purposely trying to get a reaction from him. Sometimes I'd even run my hand over his stomach so that he'd feel it. He'd grab my hand to make me stop, or pretend that he was going to hit me as he laughed with me. "At least I don't have a grizzly bear ass like somebody I know.
It is hypocritical to exhort the Brazilians to conserve their rainforest after we have already destroyed the grassland ecosystem that occupied half the continent when we found it. A large-scale grassland restoration project would give us some moral authority when we seek conservation abroad. I must admit that I also like the idea because it would mean a better home for pronghorn, currently pushed by agriculture into marginal habitats-The high sagebrush deserts of the West. I would love to return the speedsters to their evolutionary home, the Floor of the Sky. Imagine a huge national reserve where anyone could see what caused Lewis and Clark to write with such enthusiasm in their journals-the sea of grass and flowers dotted with massive herds of bison, accompanied by the dainty speedsters and by great herds of elk. Grizzly bears and wolves would patrol the margins of the herds and coyotes would at last be reduced to their proper place. The song of the meadowlarks would pervade the prairie and near water the spring air would ring with the eerie tremolos of snipe.
John A. Byers
England once there lived a big And wonderfully clever pig. To everybody it was plain That Piggy had a massive brain. He worked out sums inside his head, There was no book he hadn't read. He knew what made an airplane fly, He knew how engines worked and why. He knew all this, but in the end One question drove him round the bend: He simply couldn't puzzle out What LIFE was really all about. What was the reason for his birth? Why was he placed upon this earth? His giant brain went round and round. Alas, no answer could be found. Till suddenly one wondrous night. All in a flash he saw the light. He jumped up like a ballet dancer And yelled, "By gum, I've got the answer!" "They want my bacon slice by slice "To sell at a tremendous price! "They want my tender juicy chops "To put in all the butcher's shops! "They want my pork to make a roast "And that's the part'll cost the most! "They want my sausages in strings! "They even want my chitterlings! "The butcher's shop! The carving knife! "That is the reason for my life!" Such thoughts as these are not designed To give a pig great piece of mind. Next morning, in comes Farmer Bland, A pail of pigswill in his hand, And piggy with a mighty roar, Bashes the farmer to the floor... Now comes the rather grizzly bit So let's not make too much of it, Except that you must understand That Piggy did eat Farmer Bland, He ate him up from head to toe, Chewing the pieces nice and slow. It took an hour to reach the feet, Because there was so much to eat, And when he finished, Pig, of course, Felt absolutely no remorse. Slowly he scratched his brainy head And with a little smile he said, "I had a fairly powerful hunch "That he might have me for his lunch. "And so, because I feared the worst, "I thought I'd better eat him first.
[The Old Astronomer to His Pupil] Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet, When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet; He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how We are working to completion, working on from then to now. Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete, Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet, And remember men will scorn it, 'tis original and true, And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you. But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn, You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn, What for us are all distractions of men's fellowship and smiles; What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles. You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late, But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant's fate. Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. What, my boy, you are not weeping? You should save your eyes for sight; You will need them, mine observer, yet for many another night. I leave none but you, my pupil, unto whom my plans are known. You 'have none but me,' you murmur, and I 'leave you quite alone'? Well then, kiss me, - since my mother left her blessing on my brow, There has been a something wanting in my nature until now; I can dimly comprehend it, - that I might have been more kind, Might have cherished you more wisely, as the one I leave behind. I 'have never failed in kindness'? No, we lived too high for strife,- Calmest coldness was the error which has crept into our life; But your spirit is untainted, I can dedicate you still To the service of our science: you will further it? you will! There are certain calculations I should like to make with you, To be sure that your deductions will be logical and true; And remember, 'Patience, Patience,' is the watchword of a sage, Not to-day nor yet to-morrow can complete a perfect age. I have sown, like Tycho Brahe, that a greater man may reap; But if none should do my reaping, 'twill disturb me in my sleep So be careful and be faithful, though, like me, you leave no name; See, my boy, that nothing turn you to the mere pursuit of fame. I must say Good-bye, my pupil, for I cannot longer speak; Draw the curtain back for Venus, ere my vision grows too weak: It is strange the pearly planet should look red as fiery Mars,- God will mercifully guide me on my way amongst the stars.
Antonia Valleau cast the first shovelful of dirt onto her husband's fur-shrouded body, lying in the grave she'd dug in their garden plot, the only place where the soil wasn't still rock hard. I won't be breakin' down. For the sake of my children, I must be strong. Pain squeezed her chest like a steel trap. She had to force herself to take a deep breath, inhaling the scent of loam and pine. I must be doing this. She drove the shovel into the soil heaped next to the grave, hefted the laden blade, and dumped the earth over Jean-Claude, trying to block out the thumping sound the soil made as it covered him. Even as Antonia scooped and tossed, her muscles aching from the effort, her heart stayed numb, and her mind kept playing out the last sight of her husband. The memory haunting her, she paused to catch her breath and wipe the sweat off her brow, her face hot from exertion in spite of the cool spring air. Antonia touched the tips of her dirty fingers to her lips. She could still feel the pressure of Jean-Claude's mouth on hers as he'd kissed her before striding out the door for a day of hunting. She'd held up baby Jacques, and Jean-Claude had tapped his son's nose. Jacques had let out a belly laugh that made his father respond in kind. Her heart had filled with so much love and pride in her family that she'd chuckled, too. Stepping outside, she'd watched Jean-Claude ruffle the dark hair of their six-year-old, Henri. Then he strode off, whistling, with his rifle carried over his shoulder. She'd thought it would be a good day-a normal day. She assumed her husband would return to their mountain home in the afternoon before dusk as he always did, unless he had a longer hunt planned. As Antonia filled the grave, she denied she was burying her husband. Jean-Claude be gone a checkin' the trap line, she told herself, flipping the dirt onto his shroud. She moved through the nightmare with leaden limbs, a knotted stomach, burning dry eyes, and a throat that felt as though a log had lodged there. While Antonia shoveled, she kept glancing at her little house, where, inside, Henri watched over the sleeping baby. From the garden, she couldn't see the doorway. She worried about her son-what the glimpse of his father's bloody body had done to the boy. Mon Dieu, she couldn't stop to comfort him. Not yet. Henri had promised to stay inside with the baby, but she didn't know how long she had before Jacques woke up. Once she finished burying Jean-Claude, Antonia would have to put her sons on a mule and trek to where she'd found her husband's body clutched in the great arms of the dead grizzly. She wasn't about to let his last kill lie there for the animals and the elements to claim. Her family needed that meat and the fur. She heard a sleepy wail that meant Jacques had awakened. Just a few more shovelfuls. Antonia forced herself to hurry, despite how her arms, shoulders, and back screamed in pain. When she finished the last shovelful of earth, exhausted, Antonia sank to her knees, facing the cabin, her back to the grave, placing herself between her sons and where their father lay. She should go to them, but she was too depleted to move.