I thought now was a good time to do a post on my new book The Wild Excellence: Notes from Untamed America. The book has just been released in stores and online. Kindle version is now available on Amazon
The Wild Excellence title comes from a line in a Pablo Neruda poem, one of the last he wrote as an old man.
Without doubt I praise the wild excellence
That line, in a nutshell, describes my relationship to the fullness of the natural world.
When I moved from the Bay Area to the Absaroka mountains east of Yellowstone National Park, I found myself in the wildest country in the lower 48 and one of the last, whole intact ecosystems in the entire temperate world.
Doug Smith, Wolf Biologist for Yellowstone National Park says “country without wolves isn’t really good country. It’s incomplete. It doesn’t have its full spirit.” Over time that wild spirit of lands with grizzlies, wolf packs, large elk herds, wolverines, and cougars instilled in me a new perspective of our natural world and my place in it.
I’ve always been interested in Land so I began hiking to ancient Shoshone Sheep Eater sites, settler remains, learning fencing work and water development, but foremost learning how to be in tune with the wildlife here. Because of my proximity to the Park, wolf and elk studies were being conducted in the valley where I live and I had the opportunity to assist as a citizen scientist. ‘Bad’ grizzlies were dropped off at the end of my dirt road with the hopes they’d go into the Park. Sometimes they ‘homed’ back to where they came from, yet other times they came to the nearby woods to dig for grubs or eat chokecherries.
With time, I became aware that a parallel internal process was taking place. This wild landscape, with its full suite of wildlife, was having a healing effect on me. And that healing seemed dependent on its expansive, untouched space and the play of predators and prey so abundant here. That healing illuminated for me the sacredness of wildlands and their necessity for the human spirit.
Narrating from the borderlands of Yellowstone National Park, Leslie Patten brings us vivid accounts of wolves, grizzlies, the seasonality of ecosystems and tales of prehistoric Indians–all written with a naturalist’s eye and woven in a personal network of modern day homesteading, dogs and community. There are times when the best reporting on national parks comes from voices just beyond the legal boundary, close enough for a passionate attachment to the beauty of the land but sufficiently distant for critical appraisal of governmental management. Leslie Patten is one of those voices.
— Doug Peacock, Author of Grizzly Years, In the Shadow of the Sabertooth and other books.
Chapter 1 A Dog and a Lesson
Chapter 2 First Days
Chapter 3 The Peoples Before
Chapter 4 Close Encounters of the Wolf Kind
Chapter 5 A Most Magnificent Animal
Chapter 6 Woods, Water, and Wildlife
Chapter 7 Bear Dreamer
Chapter 8 Sagebrush Stories
Chapter 9 Medicine Dog
Chapter 10 Sacred Land Ethic