Saturday, May 10, 2014

Farley Mowat (1921-2014)

The Canadian writer and environmentalist Farley Mowat has died.  My introduction to his work was the movie, Never Cry Wolf which led me to Mowat's original text and thence to other titles.  This discovery came not long after moving to Arizona and first learning of Edward Abbey, a writer of similar sentiment if not style.  Mowat, along with Abbey and others of their ilk greatly influenced my view and love of the natural world.

His view and understanding of nature was enough to draw my attention but what truly bound me to Mowat was his 1979 World War memoir, And No Birds Sang.  I  read it in the late 80's or so and recall it as a harrowing read.  Mowat captures the fear and endurance and determination of an infantry soldier in a way that comes only from experience.  Knowing that Mowat was an infantryman added to his credibility in my mind.

No Man's River chronicles Mowat's return to civilian life after the war.  The transition is a difficult one that leads him to abandon his job shooting specimens on a scientific expedition to the Barrens of north Manitoba.  From that account it's easy to see how Mowat became the outspoken environmentalist barred from entering the US by the Reagan Administration.  What I remember most from reading No Man's River  is how incredibly self-sufficient Mowat's indigenous hosts were to live in such a remote and hostile world.  He would not have lasted long without their skills.

Above all Farley Mowat was a fine writer with a great deal of respect and love for our planet.

Godspeed, Farley.

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Mid-Spring Velo News

Another wet and rainy weekend.  I was fortunate to have some time Friday afternoon to catch the last of the dry weather for a 15 mile ride.  I would have otherwise been a wet cyclist had I been forced to ride yesterday or today.  Or a disappointed one had I not gone out at all. Last weekend was no different.  I got out on a beautiful Friday afternoon for a 10 mile loop before the rain settled in.  I went out Sunday for another 10 miles in what I hoped would be window between showers but it rained for about half that time.  Looking back even further it seems like I've been dodging rain for months now.

That said, riding is still one of the high points of my week.  It's a time to blow all the chaff from my brain and revel in the intimate beauty of the Olympia area.  Even the rainiest weekends will have some windows where I'm willing to take my chances.  So far it's worked--I'm ahead 23 miles toward my annual mileage goal, even with missed weeks for the Okeefenokee trip and at least one rained out and one snowed out weekend.

These days I am watching the construction of the Pacific Avenue Crossing.  This project will eliminate the last major road crossing on the Chehalis Western Trail.  Work began shortly after New Year's Day with completion expected by December.  This week crews placed girders across Pacific Avenue.  Much work remains but once done, I won't have to thread my way around or through the South Sound Mall parking lot and across four lanes of traffic.  I look forward to that. 

Maybe I'll remember to take a camera next time I head in that direction.

Labels: ,