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Grandview Sunrise © Robert Sommers 2017

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wolf Totem

I got an interesting email from a neighbor the other day.

D and A were out for a walk and at the bottom of our driveway they heard some loud noises and crashing sounds coming from Brian’s bamboo. A few seconds later a mule deer came out went through an opening in the fence and then two large coyotes followed. JM

This was cool to read because I never see deer around here anymore. I wonder how the deer ultimately fared?

Years ago I would see them around occasionally, usually while riding my horse or hiking but they have either vanished or made themselves really scarce in the Fallbrook area.

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I was driving to work the other morning when I saw a very tiny coyote in the grass on the side of the road, no bigger than a house cat really. I noticed the coyote looking over its shoulder. I followed its gaze to the top of the bank on the other side of the road. There was its brother or sister, experiencing obvious separation anxiety, the smallest pair that I had ever seen.

Yesterday I saw a coyote cross Mission at midday, very close to town.

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Coincidentally I am reading the excellent book Wolf Totem right now, which may have been already released as a movie.

Wolf Totem was written by a Chinese man named  Lü Jiamin under the pseudonym Jiang Rong. It is the story of a young Han Chinese man named Chen Zhen sent to Inner Mongolia during Mao's cultural revolution. At the time the Red Guard was fighting the "four olds" - old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits, in their quest to spread the communist liturgy throughout the country.

The inner Mongolians have alway lived in a symbiotic relationship with wolves on the grassland. This book illustrates that relationship and also gives one a peek into the incredible intelligence and strategy of nature's most superb pack hunters, the wolves. Without this apex predator, the grassland is thrown completely out of balance. And so the Mongolians worship the wolf spirit Tengger, who keeps everything in its proper balance.

I am not finished with the book, my second foray into Chinese fiction this month but am really enjoying it. It has set amazing sales records in China, eclipsing all other books short of Mao's little red book.


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I am reminded of the excellent video "How Wolves Change Rivers." I posted a blog that introduced the concept of trophic cascades a few years ago and you can link to it here. It has a much shorter but very concise and informative video. Quite interesting stuff.

Thinking like a mountain - Aldo Leopold 1949

I woke up one morning thinking about wolves and realized that wolf packs function as families. Everyone has a role, and if you act within the parameters of your role, the whole pack succeeds, and when that falls apart, so does the pack. Jodi Picoult
Mike sent this timely tidbit along.

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