Friday, August 23, 2013

On the Wild Edge

Last night I was looking for something to read, and going through the bookshelves I rediscovered this book by David Petersen.

Petersen is an interesting character.  He went into the Marines five years before I did,  flew helicopters, and then for undisclosed reasons left the service and essentially became a sort of wandering latter day mountain man. He and his wife ended up on a bit of land in Colorado, and this is his story of living there in the mountains.

To paraphrase an old country song, "he was a survivalist when being a survivalist wasn't cool."

I don't think he would call himself that.  He's not worried about a societal collapse although he makes it clear he absolutely expects one in the not too far distant future.  This is more a story about renouncing modern society and values altogether, and trying to recreate a way of life that is essentially gone now.

I think I was attracted to the book because he articulates some of the concerns that most of  us in the self sufficiency community feel, but can't really quantify.  I know that his view of what large numbers of people do to any natural environment parallels my own , and his experience of having the place he settled turned into a Disneyland for Adults is a lot like what has happened up here over the last 15 to 20 years.

He's a hunter, and I'm not.  I don't understand his obsession with hunting, but I suspect that you can't unless you have that hunting mind set.  More difficult to rationalize is his courting of Grizzly Bear encounters. All I can get from what he writes is that he feels like the Grizzly and his proximity adds a fine edge to life. I've known people like that, and most of them don't die natural deaths.  Still, the one thing you can't gainsay is that the man chose a wilderness life and has lived it.  Out of 100 people who want to actually move to the woods and live there, maybe one or two really do it.  He's part of that 1 or 2 %.

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