Saturday, September 19, 2009

BUSH LIVING by Sharron Chatterton

Sharron eloquently puts into words the primal connection we have for wilderness. I hope this resonates with you as it did with me. Brilliant bit of writing.

BUSH LIVING by Sharron Chatterton
[Intro by Cliff Jacobson -- included in his book "Camping's Top Secrets
-- a lexicon of camping tips only the experts know"] "Sharron Chatterton
is a retired wilderness canoe guide, college instructor, and writer who
lives a contemplative life in a lakeside cabin near Teslin, Yukon,
Canada. Here she explains how the solitude and demands of bush living
shape the personality of those who live and work in wild places."

"The wilderness promotes traits that encourage survival. Surrounded by
the unpredictable and beyond rescue, wilderness travelers safeguard
unknown outcomes against disaster. Their goal is safe arrival to their
destination, not arrival by some time or date. Some "great feats" are
simply their cautious journeys."

"Wilderness makes an individual self-reliant -- able to function alone,
to perform all tasks independently, and to know the adaptive capability
of every tool. To the bush traveler, rescue is an urban myth -- there
are no buffers against irresponsibility! Wilderness dwellers accept what
is, not what was or ought to be. They plan carefully and they don't take
chances. Actions are purposeful; tasks are always completed. To use
energy on valueless projects or to leave important work undone is
unthinkable. There is too much to do to get bored."

"Long periods spent in silence creates an ease without talk, value for
the understandings that flow without language, and a need for silence.
Silence conserves energy, frees ones attention for more important work
and, lacking confrontation, creates gentleness. Simple wisdom breeds in

"Wilderness travelers become hyperalert and observant. The land exhibits
what happened, is happening, and might happen next to the ears, eyes,
nose, and skin. These sensors function in overdrive, constantly
receiving information. "

"Some believe that wilderness living breeds antisocial behavior. In
truth, the wilderness man or woman becomes asocial -- he or she has a
lingering love of society but little need for it. The wilderness, not
the nation that manages it, evokes their allegiance. This alienation
from political boundaries and reassociation with the natural world
defines the "wilderness heart."

"Survival is the hidden foundation of bush morality. It is what allows
one to kill animals to eat, blaze trees to mark a return trail, or
sidestep a slipper orchid. An experienced bush dweller learns never to
interfere with another. To pass without offering help is a cardinal sin.
To solicit help unnecessarily is another. Survival encourages
cordiality among neighbors -- you might have to depend upon one for

"There are deeper effects of wilderness than those on human personality:
There is a growing need to reduce belongings, to hunt and gather, and to
be nomadic. Nature -- not other humans -- controls the routine. There
is a growing intimacy with animals and with death. Consciousness passes
old barriers and metaphysical experiences occur. Wilderness rearranges
behavior, reconfigures mental constructs, and transforms the inner self

"Yet personality change is what we first perceive in committed wilderness
travelers. We see it in epic soloists, long-distance trekkers, and in
those who work in wild places -- guides, researchers, and itinerant
wanderers. In fact, all of us, even we who paddle a simple slough alone
or walk a dog along the bluffs -- even farmers, loggers, and deep sea
fishermen whose wilderness experiences we consistently deny -- have
personalities deeply marked by wilderness."


danontherock said...

That was a great piece of writing
thank you

Doug said...

Really good stuff here that strikes a chord. Thanks for sharing.