My evening climbs up the seasonal roadway typically did not produce unusual wildlife sightings, but a recent walk proved to be exceptional.
Before I reached my spruce and pine grove on the east side of the gravel road, I saw a black bear, a small one, crossing from the field to the woods. It quickly disappeared, but since the wind was in my favor I decided to sneak up and attempt another glimpse of the bear.
Within five minutes, I approached an old jumble of fallen trees within my grove and saw something that brought me to a stop. It was not the bear that I’d been following, but a short-legged mammal with a bushy tail. A fisher was running uphill, leaping from trunk to fallen trunk, and then, like the black bear, vanishing from view.
[photo by Missoulian]
For a second I thought it was a mink, but no– this was too large, too dark (almost black), too facile a tree climber to be a mink. Fisher sightings are unusual in New York, but are more common now than they were when I first settled here. The fisher’s preferred habitat (unbroken tracts of forest land) is more prevalent than it was four decades ago, and offers the fur-bearer a sufficient livelihood in the pursuit of rabbit, squirrel and porcupine.
Although I’ve witnessed fishers (a large member of the weasel family, and not related to cats) at least four or five times, this was the first occasion where I’ve seen one on the home place. Viewing it was magical, as if a black bear had shape-shifted quickly to a rarer carnivore returning to its former haunts.
I saw it, incidentally, without the dubious aid of alcohol, illegal substance, or the FNN (Fake News Network)! I’d been thinking of “a wild economy,” a notion I referred to in my previous post, whereby energy transactions occur between humans and creatures of the wild.
I’m no expert on the subject but I think that people need these energy transactions to help them keep their balance with nature. The problem is that in our increasingly urbanized existence, with our minimal contact with the wild, a lot of us are lacking a healthy relationship with outer realms. Culturally, our wild economy is hurting.
But sequestered souls are busy filling up the void with substitute nature, with illusions. When I was 10 or 11 years old, I became obsessed with UFOs, convinced, from reading library books, that flying saucers were real, that the U.S. government was withholding the truth about them from the public.
Flying saucers could be real, of course, but later on, the drug culture sucked me in and straightened out a lot of misconceptions (so I like to think). After college and my first real job in life, I defected to an edge land where I learned about the beautiful hardships found in rural living.
I was often entertained by local residents, here and elsewhere, swearing that mountain lions and black panthers (among other unlikely spirits) roamed the hills. I could shape-shift in imagination as handily as anyone, but I wasn’t quite ready to believe (as much as I wanted to) that big cats still haunted Appalachia.
I even heard that our state’s Department of Environmental Conservation was stocking these animals, secretly… Right, and I’ve got a bridge that I can sell you over on the Genesee.
I guess if you believe some fallacy long enough, you’ll come around eventually to seeing it face to face. You’ll witness UFOs sweeping the sky, or find cougars stalking Pennsylvania white-tails. Everything shape-shifts, potentially, to fill a vacuum in the soul. Everyone needs to find some magic in the world.
I feel rather fortunate in finding a simple presentation, though– of bear to fisher in a woodlot near the house, of creatures giving something back to one who looks– a wild economy at work.