Living Things: Gila Wilderness & Bear

Returning from the Gila wilderness, over 100 miles of winding roads through aspen and ponderosa pine; in the valley, massive cottonwood trees drink along the banks of the shallow clear-running Gila River. New friends were made in the collared lizards, golden eagles, mule deer, hummingbirds, and a black bear in the middle of the road who took us in, wanted to know why we were there.

Every sighting is a plea.

I felt this in the Gila, in the cliff dwellings of ancestors, standing in the water, taking in the energy of the ancient forest.

Every sighting is a plea that says, “We are still here.”

The more time I spend in spaces like the Gila, the more hesitant I am to return to the city.

Every sighting is a plea that says, “What are you going to do when you return? How can you help?”

The black bear ran into the forest and I craned my neck to take them in one more time before we pulled away, down the mountain into Silver City where the astounding and awe-inspiring terror of humankind’s impression upon this earth is witnessed in the gutted-out Santa Rita copper mines. There is nothing other than awe, that and a collapse from within, to know that this is heralded as Achievement. You can pull over at the copper mines, read a rusted placard declaring itself a Marvel, and stare deep into the wound.

We drove on, but unable to turn away from the earth unnaturally dispersed. Unable to shake that image away. And other mines populate, as I drive past them in my memory — the Decker Mines outside Sheridan, Wyoming; the Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mines outside Hibbing, MN.

And the black bear galloped into the forest. I lost them somewhere in the greens and browns and reds of the late August Gila wilderness.

Every sighting is a plea.

When you make contact, when your eyes drink in another who is not you, a question is posed, and you have to answer: Who and what are you willing to protect? And is it really you who needs protection?

Gila Wilderness, New Mexico, August 2017

Adam R. Burnett writes. More at adamrburnett.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store