Monday, August 24, 2009

Book Review - Being Caribou

"Being Caribou", by Karsten Heuer, is about about a journey embarked upon by Karsten (wildlife biologist) and his wife Leanne (filmmaker). During this trip, Karsten and Leanne followed the Porcupine caribou herd ON FOOT from the Yukon Territory to the caribou calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and back ... a journey of around 1,000 miles.

Their trip was designed principally to learn more about the caribou's reliance on ANWR so that they could generate a more informed opinion about efforts to open up parts of ANWR for oil development.

Can't even begin to imagine the conditions that they endured during their 5 month journey. From the storms to grizzly bear encounters --- unrelenting mosquitoes and navigational challenges --- and the complex logistics of planning and coordinating such a trip. Pretty amazing stuff.

Overall I give the book about a 6. An interesting read, but not so compelling that I couldn't step away from it from time to time.

Some of my favorite text from the book is actually introductions to certain chapters, where the author quotes from Sonnets to Orpheus (which was new to me). Some good stuff. Mom, you'd like it, its got a Zen-like feel to it. Thoreau meets the Budha?

P. 79 (Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, Part One, XII)

Pure attention, the essence of the powers!
Distracted by each day's doing,
how can we hear the signals?

P. 111 (Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XIV)

There's a lightness in things. Only we people move forever burdened,
pressing ourselves onto everything, obsessed by weight.
How strange and devouring our ways must seem
to those for whom life is enough.

P. 175 (Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XIII)

Be. And, at the same time, know what it is to not be.
That emptiness inside you allows you to vibrate
in resonance with your world. Use it for once.

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