Not your average travel blog
Following my transition along the sublime plains, through the buckling crevices and escalation through the foothills, I found my excited self ascended onto the side of Montana’s Rocky Mountains.
Reminding myself that I had not planned on adventuring to this kingdom on this trip, or indeed this early in my life, (I still think I’ll come back as an elderly fisherman), each day I saw a new view around western Montana and had to take deep breaths to make sure I inhaled every last vapour, of fresh glacial splendour from the air. Avoiding the mountain towns made the snow covered Rockies a sensory experience to savour.
Since I began in March, each day has brought a new patience, a new wisdom and new struggle: not always pleasant, not always a joy, not always memorable, sometimes a physical challenge and not always emotionally easy: it has always, vitally, never been boring.
Just inside Glacier National Park, on the eastern side of the Rockies, I saw my first living beavers (unfortunately, the deceased ones from earlier in the trip didn’t count). At dusk, whilst watching two of the largest rodents North America is home to (not on the continent, that would be the mighty capybara in South America, big lads, they are), I quietly, voyeuristically spied on two dedicated lovers, canoodle and frolicking around the woody banks of the swollen Saint Mary River.
Having not seen beavers before, and up to this point only checking their handy work on some rather impressively-large trunks, I marvelled at their relaxed demeanour, their unhurried approach to getting work done and their enjoyable, intimate behaviour towards each other as they shared the experience of peacefully completing a task.
They even found time to play, rolling around with each other, splashing in the shallows and almost sharing a joke. The male clearly wasn’t amused by his lovers playful attributes, but it was clearly why he desired her, the grumpy old man. I think I was romantically relating to their lifestyle in the sticks, off the grid, and making excellent use of their surroundings to make it their home.
(sadly, not my beavers, but very similar) Photo courtesy Tongass Forest Service
The playful female shuffled along the river bank to check me out. After few cheeky peeks around the wooded bushes and calmly floating herself into the fast flowing melt water to see if I was a danger, she flipped her body into the current and was gone in a second. The male, lets call him Nigel, just continued with his dental work, tirelessly prepping wood to take home to his giddy Mrs, who had discreetly returned home to get dinner on with a romantic few candles, no doubt.
It was also at this point that I realised how difficult it is to take awesome photos of wildlife, when I spend too much time watching, and forgetting to operate my camera!
I’m constantly reminded of the important lessons that nature provides. The repeating seasons which all bring their hardships and abundances, the circles of life that Mother Nature is so persistent at creating to bring a healthy balance to each ecosystem. It’s astonishing that even with all the natural lessons we can learn, it appears man continues to work against nature, solely for the self-destructive objective, of just growing.
It’s easy to dismiss the similarities between cancer the disease, and humans as a cancer (on the planet). It’s a metaphor rather than a solid hypothesis. However, a cancerous tumour continues to grow even as its nutrients deplete and the vital functions of its host cause its host to die. Similarly, human societies undermine their own long-term viability by depleting and polluting the environment. Civilisation’s growth continues, whilst the planet’s resources run dry. Only a cancer imitates this action, the reaction, is death.
Without being terribly morbid, and to avoid jumping feet first onto a “religious” bandwagon of the Church of Euthanasia – who’s slogan appears to be “Save the planet, Kill yourself”, here is what A. Macdougall had to say on humans as cancer:
“cancer cells proliferate rapidly and uncontrollably in the body; humans continue to proliferate rapidly and uncontrollably in the world. Crowded cancer cells harden into tumors; humans crowd into cities. Cancer cells infiltrate and destroy adjacent normal tissues; urban sprawl devours open land. Malignant tumors shed cells that migrate to distant parts of the body and set up secondary tumors; humans have colonized just about every habitable part of the globe. Cancer cells lose their natural appearance and distinctive functions; humans homogenize diverse natural ecosystems into artificial monocultures. Malignant tumors excrete enzymes and other chemicals that adversely affect remote parts of the body; humans’ motor vehicles, power plants, factories and farms emit toxins that pollute environments far from the point of origin.”
You get the picture. However MacDougall does make one final and important point. As much as I tend to agree with the cancer metaphor, cancer cells can’t think – humans can.
Humans have the capacity for planetary awareness, cancer cells do not have that power. Cancer cells can’t consciously modify their behaviour to spare their host’s life and prolong their own, however humans can adjust, adapt, innovate, change course and ultimately learn the vital lessons needed to at least slow down the planets natural cycle (the planet will, eventually do without humans). I only hope we can accelerate our learning to slow our cancerous development.
Once again on the Canadian border, about a 45 minute drive north of St Mary, on the eastern side of the American Rockies, I headed out into the chilled fog, into the wilderness and grizzly country that was a peopleless, Glacier National Park.
Really wonderful post. Thought provoking and poetic, but lighthearted and warm. 🙂
Thank you for reading. I do love a poetic Beaver.