The image of a fierce Mongol horseman riding the harsh plains of his native land with an enormous eagle perched on one arm, the two of them searching for prey that includes fox, hare and even wolf is one that has haunted writer Steve Bodio for decades.
The Yellowstone steadily flows down to the Missouri, then Mississippi and finally the Gulf of Mexico, always as gravity’s companion – this movement is the essence of all rivers. The repetitive nature of the day to day routine out here is hypnotic, rapidly washing away anxiety and, finally, useless ego. An unaccustomed serenity and well-being pervades as the canoe tracks its own way with slight help from me. Everything is now the river and its fertile, riparian corridor with all of the creatures who depend on this water to live moving in synchronicity.
All of this pales in comparison to the obscene madness that has now become the fate of Base Camp at Mount Everest. The 8,000-meter peaks of the Himalayas have become the unfortunate repositories for what is repugnant about human nature with very little innate goodness surviving. Dying climbers pushed aside, ignored and denied medical help while their equipment is stolen, greedy guides unethical to the point of criminal, drugs, alcoholism, prostitution – hell this could just as well be inner city New York or Saigon as 20,000 feet above sea level in what used to be one of the most remote landscapes on earth. Everest has become the poster child for this debauchery.
This is the tough time of the year for those such as myself who love and live to fly fish, to cast haphazardly-tied amalgams of fur and feather to wild trout while standing knee deep in the middle of a gorgeous trout stream surrounded by jagged mountains and vast native grass prairies that drift off in all directions.
I did not know that Neanderthals once lived hereabouts; that farmers first settled here six thousand years ago; that nearby, down on the Campagna, the Gauls defeated the Romans in 390 B.C. before going on to take Rome itself. I knew dimly that the Allied forces had fought the Wehrmacht in these parts in 1944, but not that the day before the Americans took Marcellina, the Germans rounded up all the village men they could find and shot them in reprisal for the killing of two German grenadiers.
This is not Labrador. We are fifty miles northeast of Rome and a mile above sea level, climbing Monte Cava in the Central Apennines, on one of our Sunday jaunts with the Club Alpino Italiano, Sezione Roma. Just ahead of me is my wife, Mary Jane, and beyond her I can see Antonello the orthodontist, and beyond him Alessandro, a banker on weekdays but today our Leader.
Doug Peacock’s reputation frequently precedes him as does that of his late, larger-than-life friend and father figure Edward Abbey.
One region I’ve always wanted to wander about in is Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental mountains, a 1,000-mile range running from near the U.S. border down towards the isthmus of Panama.
The style of this book is intriguing. Doug has written several short stories, called Portraits, based on his personal experiences with the bears around the northern Rockies, while Andrea contributes chapters revolving around interviews and reporting on the subject.