Poor old scruffy. She used to be pretty. Now she’s pretty old.
She used to be bossy. Now she’s just slightly grumpy.
“Baby girl” is now an old girl. Bless her grumpy old soul.
The sun is low here in central Broma, on 8th Avenue, looking towards the community centre. The community centre gym is just out of sight, the other side of the trees.
The other evening in the weight room, this guy was leaning on a piece of equipment I wanted to use, playing with his “smart” phone. I use three other machines, he’s still fiddling with his phone. Finally I go over, point at the machine, and ask “You using this?”
“Yes,” he says, “I’m just waiting for my spreadsheet to load.”
I couldn’t even say anything. People pretend to be multi-tasking when really they are not doing anything. Not working on the spreadsheet, and not working out.
The best approach is “Be Here Now.”
Originally posted December 31, 2007
The townsite was a moose swamp, not much more than one hundred years ago, and when not frozen over is still pretty swampy. Moose are still a big presence here, both in terms of symbolism and in traditional practices that go back thousands of years. I am not a hunter, and could not kill a moose any more than I could kill any other animal, yet I do not judge those who hunt for food and survival. The Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation helps manage the fish and game in their traditional territory (Tr’ondek is the word which became reshaped into the word Klondike).
The Tr’ondek Hwech’in are based in Dawson City and are now the largest employer in town.
The spirit of the moose is pervasive, yet a proper photo is not that easy to come by. Finally tonight I was able to get my camera out, find the “detect aura” setting, and get a shot of the moose god in its natural environment. Note its electric blue breath in the frosty night air.
Tinkonthebrink commented: Wow, that’s exactly how the moose god looks in my dreams! Happy Now Year.
Reply: Thanks for the feedback! Don’t know if it was deliberate, or a typo, but I’ve decided that “Happy Now Year” will be my slogan for the upcoming year. Thanks for that as well.
Kathryn commented: My hat is off to you. Clearly you have attained a mastery beyond the rest of us. So many spiritual hours spent in the Northern wilds. Thanks for sharing this significant gift. And some day I might wish to borrow your camera too!
Happy Now Year to you all.
Tinkonthebrink commented: nope, not a typo, and you’re welcome to it. The big benefit is that it’s happy now year all year long…
Reply: Yes, and there’s an embedded message of mindfulness and affirmation: “happy now”. I love it. Thank you for your “presence” ;-)
Originally posted December 31, 2007
It is somehow very satisfying to bundle up to go out into the cold, even though once you get one mitt on and tucked in, you can’t get the other one on properly. The mitts have to come off anyway to operate the camera, which has a metal casing, and let me tell you that is not pleasant to handle at 30 below (minus 20 Fahrenheit, in case you aren’t bilingual). I don’t dawdle, and try to only leave one hand exposed, and use a wrist strap so I don’t drop the camera when the hand become thick and stupid in the cold.
Cold clear nights are the best to see the northern lights and so I bundle up and head out. A couple of nights ago was the first time in three months that I saw an aurora. At first it was just a pale green band across the entire sky, which slowly shifted and dissolved and reformed. Then there was a breakaway formation like a horse’s tail that flipped off to one side. I was surprised how rapidly it could move. You can see it taking shape and moving across and it feels like you can glimpse the workings of the universe, that you can actually observe rays of energy coming in from the faraway heavens and interacting with our planet.
Of course I tried to get a picture but when it was spectacular it moved quickly and was gone before I could get the camera out from beneath all the layers. In any event, I think I would need a tripod to do a longer exposure. Perhaps I’ll just buy a postcard and take a picture of that, and say look, ain’t it pretty? In the meantime, here is the shadow of a tree cast by a streetlight onto the tire tread texture of an icy winter street.
Here is more background to the lynx claws.
When first posted, I received hate mail, was defriended and basically accused of being a cruel heartless animal abuser.
The main critic, as it turns out, was some kind of internet fraud. While questioning my ethics, this person was taking material from around the web and posting it as their own.
I also received many private messages of support from people who were scared to openly comment on the blog. The following is a sampling of some of the comments and replies from that time.
Carla commented: Wilderness and wild things have no use for sentimentality. A point well made. I am enjoying your posts from the wild north, which I have just now caught up with.
Zephyr commented: I love cats too, we have quite a few beautiful cats. Thinks - they might look better on the lynx. Smiles.
Reply: Thanks Carla and Zephyr (and Bitey) for dropping by. I’m living in a pampered oasis here, but there are hints of what it must have been like in the real frontier days (you know, before wi-fi). I’m totally impressed by the little birds who visit, the chickadees and the titmice, who manage to thrive under conditions which seem so harsh and unforgiving. I bundle up to run an errand, yet they live out there. In fact there are little redpolls who summer further north and come here in the winter, because it is warmer (just like the Canadian “snowbirds” who winter in Florida).
Reply to a number of offensive posts:
Well, I am not involved in trapping myself and would not purchase products made from lynx. I do not condone cruelty to any animal, and I love cats. However, I think some of the cruelest animals on earth are house cats who, for sport, not even for survival, but just for fun, slaughter millions of songbirds every year.
People often romanticize the beautiful life of a wild animal. You think it is cruel to be taken by a trapper, but it is okay to be torn apart by wolves? That is often the alternative: death by predator, death by starvation, freezing to death, or maybe eventually and rarely, death from old age. You have compassion for the lynx but do you have compassion for the snowshoe hare? From the perspective of the hare, the lynx is “the most dangerous and cruel animal on Earth.” This is what I was getting at by mentioning sentimentality in my post, because the sentimental perspective just extracts one piece of the picture and labels it good or bad. If your sentiments lean towards the hare, the lynx is a cold blooded killer.
It is funny because while you were posting your comments I was on the phone getting more details of trapping practices (for instance I wondered if they used the meat – yes, they do). I’ve never heard of animals being skinned alive, and leg hold traps (toothy metal things) I believe have been illegal in Canada for many years. However I admit I know very little about it and I’m sure I would find more details or a closer view distressing, just like I would find a visit to a slaughterhouse distressing.
Factory farms, in my opinion, represents “cruelty for greed” on a large (and unsustainable) scale, and suggest that anyone who wants to vote with their consumer dollars not to purchase meat, dairy or eggs at supermarkets.
Humans are part of nature, not separate from it. For people miles from any road much less a supermarket and generally “living off the grid,” I would not be quick to label them from afar as soulless barbarian ignorant oafs. I appreciate your concern for the lynx and for other creatures, wild and tame, and like you, I feel sickened at the thought of cruelty.
I wonder if you even read my comment. I said I do not condone cruelty to any animal, and would not purchase any products made from lynx. This means that I DO NOT CONDONE CRUELTY, and I do not support the trapping or killing of lynx. I also admitted that I know very little about what goes on. You on the other hand seem to be claiming to know all about it. I know you are passionate on this topic, but it would be great if you could calm down a little and be more respectful of others.
It is commendable to wish to defend the lynx, but this particular animal had already passed. The photo is not gory (which means bloody). These claws were much like the clippings you get off any cat’s nails, only larger. However I’m sorry if you were shocked.
I have never even met a trapper, much less have trapper friends.
I posted the picture because I am a kind of tourist here, and reporting what I saw and heard that day. I am curious so of course I wanted to see them. At the same time I felt sorry for the dead lynx and tried to get more information. I am still gathering information. Thanks for imagining I might be a good guy. As far as the issues of animal rights and vegetarianism, people are singing to the choir here. I am not the enemy. There is no fur on my parka.
More replying to accusations of condoning cruelty:
I say you are disrespectful because you continue to ignore what I have said about myself. All of your arguments are perfectly valid, but as I said you are preaching to the choir and it is not appropriate to put words into my mouth or to state my position for me, while ignoring what I have explicitly said.
For example: “You seem to have this … philosophy that animals are lesser beings, that they don’t suffer, and we should use them for our personal pleasure and for any of our caprices and whims. And we have the right of death, torture, and of any kind of physical and emotional exploitation over them.”
Nope, never said anything like that. Never said that at all.
I never said the photo was “fun and enjoyable”. In fact I called it gruesome.
“while justifying yourself with we shouldn’t have maudlin sentimentality over wild animals that have been killed for their furs.”
Nope, never said that either. My comment about sentimentality being pointless was based on my personal buddhist approach of accepting things for being what they are. The animal was already dead. Whatever had happened had already happened. Nothing I could do would change that.
“You certainly don’t think animals have rights like humans,”
You don’t know what I think and don’t seem to care.
”…you are not offended to do the same, to a lynx,”
In fact, I said just the opposite. I said I would be distressed by a closer view of trapping.
“in your “specist” [sic] ”animal racist” mind, only a wild animal… that doesn’t deserved [sic] our compassion.”
Never said that. All beings deserve compassion. The lnyx and the hare both deserve compassion.
”unfortunately there are many people like you on this planet, who think like you, much more than people like me,”
You do not seem to have the slightest idea what I think. In fact, I believe that we, you and I, are actually not very far apart on these issues. I have tried in my comments to point out common ground, such as “like you, I feel sickened at the thought of cruelty.” This is why I feel disrespected here, because you make these sweeping assertions about what I think and what I am like without bothering to pay attention to what I say.
“I implore you to have respect for this lynx who has already suffered a premature and horrific death,“
I have the utmost respect for lynx and all other creatures. I thank every creature who crosses my path and try to do no harm. I said a prayer for the spirit of the lynx, and I am grateful for the glimpse. I saw only a glimpse and yet it has become an influence in my life and who knows how that will unfold.
As for the animal, I never saw it and do not know how it died.
I suggest you direct your energy towards people who actually support the fur trade, and try to educate them, and influence them with your passion and wisdom.
Susan #1 commented: George has shown us his life through the lens of his camera. He did not kill the Lynx… he has merely given us a look through a hunter’s eyes. Man has been both a hunter and a gatherer since the dawn of time… some people have chosen to eat only plants, while others eat meat and plants. The lynx was not killed for sport… I’m sure all parts of it were used - obviously except for the bones. People have the right to use the earth’s resources… I know I’m probably stepping on a bees nest here…
Reply: People can argue an anti-trapping stance and in fact I have already agreed with the position clearly and repeatedly (I said I DO NOT ENDORSE THE KILLING OR HARMING OF LYNX or any other animals). What I will not accept here are statements that I endorse trapping or endorse cruelty to animals, because that is simply not true. DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME!
Do you understand the phrase singing or preaching to the choir? That describes someone who goes on arguing and arguing long after someone has agreed with them. I respectfully suggest again that you use your formidable energy and direct it towards educating people who support the fur trade with their consumer dollars. As I have tried to emphasize, I am not one of those people.
My moment of clarity came today from National Geographic. I opened one up and found horrific pictures of dismembered animals. When NG publishes a picture about poaching in Africa and shows a gory brutalized elephant, do people suggest NG is endorsing poaching? No. In fact NG obviously supports animal conservation and the protection of wild spaces.
However, the same picture will evoke difference responses. Some people will write in and say, well what a horrible picture but it has opened my eyes to the graphic reality of poaching. Other people will write in and say, how dare you publish that photo. It is offensive and shocking and has no place in your magazine. Cancel my subscription!
To my critics, I regret not being clearer in my original post. The word “however” means, on the other hand, or despite that. The meaning in my post carries over from the previous sentence. What I actually said was, I LOVE CATS, however, given the opportunity, yes I wanted to see the lynx claws. You see, just like the lynx, I am curious and an observer.
I have received messages from other people who are afraid of the abuse if they post here, but wanted to share their stories with me. Despite a reverence for animals and the natural world, other people cherish tokens or fetishes evoking an animal spirit, such as bear or raven. I do not see the inconsistency between respecting the spirit of the animal and taking the photo. I am a stranger here and reporting from a world that is as strange to me as it may be to you. Again, I apologize to any who have been offended. I am not used to receiving so much attention.
Carla commented: George, I would not have you apologize for taking and posting a documentary photograph, but you certainly may if you choose to. My comment on George’s post, was an expansion of my own of what he wrote. It was not about the photograph, the lynx, the trapping, or directly any behavior of man. It was inspired by his words. One word. Sentimentality.
I live at the edge of a patch of wilderness, which is still home to predators coyote, bear, bobcat, mountain lion, fisher cats, eagles, hawks, owls. I have seen them in action, taking deer, fish, small rodents. There are human hunters here too. My land is posted to discourage them.
When I enter the wilderness, I address the life in it, the living rocks, trees, animals, great and small. I anthropomorphized these beings and create metaphors of them that I can relate to. It may be sentimental. I am sentimental about the beauty of my friend the snake, though she has never been wild. I would be frightened of her if I met her in her wild state.
I liked that George reminded me that the wilderness and wild things are bigger than my thoughts of them, or my feelings about them, and they don’t really care what I think. If I stayed out there without shelter, transport or any recourse, they would probably eat me. This would not be evil, though it is a terrifying and unsentimental thought.
Read Jack London, or Barry Lopez.
Thanks to everyone who contributed here. In terms of shock power, the most shocking images I discovered over the past few days were on anti-trapping sites. It is almost paralyzing for anyone with an open heart to research issues of animal cruelty.
Originally posted December 30, 2007. This posted attracted much controversy at the time. For more background, see next post, Trapping Controversy.
A previous post, “Moose Decor,” unexpectedly hit the hot list [on social network of previous blog]. Moose antlers are very versatile. They can be used to decorate your log cabin or to illustrate your blog.
Today I heard some memorable sentences: “What are you going to do with the bear’s head?”; and “Tastes like moose”; and (my favorite) “What’s facebook?”
Also, “This trapper guy gave me some lynx claws. Would you like to see them?”
Well, gulp, yes I would. Lynx have great furry paws, to cope with deep snow. The fur is very soft, and the claws large. The lynx population numbers vary widely, following the cycle of the rabbit population, their chief prey.
Anyone who knows me is well aware of my overwhelming fondness for cats (obsessed might be the more accurate word). However, given the opportunity, yes I wanted to see the lynx claws (a collection from several animals), touch the soft fur (the reason they are trapped), arrange them on a slab and take a picture to illustrate the ultimate pointlessness of sentimentality.
UPDATE 2 days later: This post has attracted a lot of criticism. I regret not being clearer in my original words. I would like to emphasize that I do not endorse the killing or harming of any animal. I love cats and cannot bear to think about them being harmed in any way. I am totally against cruelty to other beings, including people and animals.
In terms of background, for those interested in facts, there are about 400 licensed trappers in the Yukon and lynx is one of the animals which are legally trapped (okay, let me say again, I DO NOT ENDORSE THIS). According to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, “approximately 50% of Yukon trappers are First Nations, for which trapping is a way of life with strong social and cultural traditions.”
Here we see Bailey working on his audition to replace the MGM lion. He sure has high hopes … or maybe he’s just dreaming.