To Dance with Nature. It’s an age old
expression I have heard at one time or another most of my life. I write about
sustainable practice quite a bit. So much so that sometimes I am accused of
tagging on to a national trend for selfish reasons. I suppose I can understand
this point of view, but I would have to respond by telling you that my
relationship to the earth as I experience it is not only genuine, but well
earned over a life time of adventure in the wilderness, much of which has been
spent alone, far away from human influence.
the end of July I will be returning to the Inyo Mountain Ranges, directly
across from the Sierra’s near Bishop
in order to help facilitate a right of passage ceremony, for a group of hospice
workers and doctors. I embarked on my first formal vision quest in Big Pine
California well over sixteen years ago and it has been through these
experiences among others that I have learned how to dance with nature in my own
a chef I have had the privilege to cook with some of the finest foods available
in America. When I was a young apprentice working in the metropolises of the
world, I was too busy learning my craft to experience foods harvest at the
source. When a fresh wild salmon arrived at my back door I could appreciate its
splendor. Then on the other hand, I had no idea what it was like to struggle
with its majesty out at sea. I was oblivious to the experience of holding a freshly
caught thirty pound King Salmon blazing with color, under the watchful gaze of
an expectant seal pup bobbing in the waves behind the boat.
first time I braised a wild boar in Los Angeles, the fear and thrill of
tracking, shooting and dressing a two hundred pound freight train with tusks,
was beyond me. When I worked with wild huckleberries from Idaho, I had not yet
been caught between two grizzly cubs and their mother at dusk on the side of a
hill, miles away from camp.
I tossed octopus into a seafood salad, the thought of killing a giant northern
octopus weighing in excess of one hundred pounds with a mallet while it stared
me down from the kitchen sink, was the farthest thing from my mind.
first time I ate moose, it had not occurred to me that one day I might end up
praying not to get stomped by a full grown male standing over me as I huddled
helpless inside my kayak in three feet of water. While a golden eagle watched
lazily from a tree just above us, on an over hanging branch.
I talk about the need to protect and nurture our countries resources, I do so
because nature has been good to me. Whether it is through cellular memories
emanating through the Cherokee part of my ancestry, or the training from
experts I have worked with over the years, I am not sure. What I am sure of is
that when I respond to the call of nature with an attitude of humble curiosity
and respect, nature tends to respond in kind.