Beauty and chaos, standing together

Review of ‘The Carry Home; Lessons from the American Wilderness’ by Gary Ferguson.

 

The Carry Home: Lessons from  the American Wilderness

Gary Ferguson, 296 pages, hardcover: $25.

Counterpoint, 2014.

 

When Gary Ferguson set off to scatter the ashes of his wife, Jane, in the wilderness, he was overwhelmed by

his deep grief. But slowly the science and nature writer began to understand that the very journeys that broke his heart would one day help him “piece it together again.”

Gary and Jane were students at Indiana University when they met. They married in 1980 and spent the next 25 years walking, biking, driving and canoeing in remote places from Mexico to the Arctic. For the last 14 of those years, their journeys began and ended at a house near Red Lodge, Montana. Then Jane drowned during what should have been an easy canoe trip down the Kopka River in Northern Ontario.

Soon after, “wrapped in an impossible fog of grief,” Ferguson began his solitary journeys to scatter Jane’s ashes in three of the five locations specified in her will: Alpine Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho; near a Forest Service cabin in southern Montana; and in an isolated corner of Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park. Two years later, he hiked to the last two places: remote areas in Montana’s Beartooth Mountains and Yellowstone National Park. During these journeys, he thought about their lives together, and his reflections gradually unknotted the tangle of his sorrow and helped him rediscover himself. He found solace in something he learned from an elderly Paiute man: “On any given day there’s both beauty and chaos standing together.”

Gary Ferguson writes under the influence of poetry, especially that of beat poets Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder, known as the poet laureate of Deep Ecology. But Ferguson’s prose is clear and engaging, and he uses it to convey his hard-earned knowledge of fear and freedom and the failings of the boomer generation. The Carry Home invites the reader to witness life and death from the writer’s newfound point of view: “It’s in the woods just beyond my door where I’m likely to recall that life as we know it wouldn’t even arise in the first place, unless it also passed away.”

High Country News Classifieds
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    HawkWatch International seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our awesome team! This position will provide support in all aspects of the department. We are looking...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING IN TAOS, NEW MEXICO www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details:
  • HAND CRAFTED LOG HOME IN TETON VALLEY
    on ten acres. Full view of the Grand Teton. 35 miles to Yellowstone and 20 minutes to Grand Targhee Ski Area.
  • ACREAGE WITH HOME, SHOP, BARN FOR SALE!
    Must see for sng/extd fam or corp retreat in pines! $1,030,000
  • WESTERN REGIONAL MANAGER
    The American Forest Foundation seeks a smart and highly motivated candidate to join our Western conservation team. The Regional Manager supports the Regional Director to...
  • TRANSPORTATION PLANNER
    Exciting opportunity to lead the charge on meeting the future transportation demands of our community! This position will develop, coordinate, and implement the Integrated Transportation...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL WRITING INSTITUTE (EWI)
    with Robert Michael Pyle September 26-30, 2018, in Missoula MT.
  • REPORTING FELLOW - BOISE, ID
    Boise State Public Radio is hiring a Reporting Fellow as part of a new nationwide collaborative, Guns & America. Based in the state capitol, Boise...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Middle Colorado Watershed Council. Rifle, CO.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF RIVERSEDGE WEST (FORMERLY TAMARISK COALITION)
    RiversEdge West is seeking an entrepreneurial leader with solid nonprofit management skills to lead our high functioning team and help us make an impact on...
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR WITH WRA
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a talented, organized person with great people skills, who is passionate about protection of the natural environment to work...
  • DIRECTOR OF REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY
    The Wilderness Society is recruiting for an experienced Communicator for our Northwest Region. This position is located in Seattle, WA. For more information please visit...
  • SALMON RIVER IDAHO WILDERNESS RETREAT HOME
    Here is an opportunity to have a piece of self-sufficient paradise on Idaho's Main Salmon River adjacent to the largest Forest Service wilderness area in...
  • RAMMED EARTH SOLAR COTTAGE
    in 5-home conservation community & botanical sanctuary on 20 acres.
  • MEMBERSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR
    The Montana Wildlife Federation is looking for an enthusiastic and innovative Membership and Engagement Coordinator to help grow and maintain our grassroots voice for wildife,...
  • SR ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNER
    The City of Fort Collins is excited to announce a Sr Environmental Planner position within the Natural Areas Department. This position will be housed within...
  • HISTORICAL VACATION CABIN
    on beautiful Snow Angel Ranch located within San Juan National Forest near Pagosa Springs, CO. Lakes, fly-fishing, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, horse trails, horse accommodations...
  • FIVE-ACRE VIEW LOT WITH WELL
    5 acres, well. Abuts Carson NF; hike fish ski; deer turkey elk.