from “Grizzly Years” by Doug Peacock
The bears provided a calendar for me when I got back from Vietnam,
when one year would fade into the next and I would lose great hunks
of time to memory with no events or people to recall their passing.
I had trouble with a world whose idea of vitality was anything
other than the naked authenticity of living or dying. The world
paled, as did all that my life had been before, and I found myself
estranged from my own time. Wild places and grizzly bears solved
When I ran into the goldish mother bear and her dark cub on the
mountainside I was more than a decade away from the war zone, and
my seasonal migration to grizzly country had become a pattern. I
had come to this place in the spring to meet the grizzlies as they
emerged from their winter sleep and again late in the fall to see
them into their dens. Since the female always denned in the same
area it was easy. What I hadn’t known was whether the young
grizzly would return to the den after his mother was killed, or
whether he knew how to dig a winter den. On September 20th,
I found my answer. Besides what he learned from his mother,
this young grizzly had his own instincts.
Doug Peacock Biography
Doug Peacock, like others of his generation, returned from the
Vietnam War in spiritual and psychological crisis. He found the
balm to sooth his troubled soul in wild places and in the
company of North America's largest predator. Grizzly Years
(Henry Holt, 1990) is his account of that time. Peacock is
believed to have spent more time with grizzlies in the wild than
anyone else in the world. His intimate knowledge of their ways
is unparalleled, and Grizzly Years has become a recognized
classic in nature writing. He has also published numerous stories
in periodicals such as Audubon, Outside, Backpacker, and
Mother Earth News.
Peacock may be even more famous as the model for George
Hayduke, a fictional character in the best-selling novel The
Monkey Wrench Gang and the follow-up novel Hayduke
Lives!, by his close friend, the late Edward Abbey. Abbey's
Hayduke was the original wilderness avenger and saboteur. His
type of activism is believed to have inspired the creation of
Earth First! and the practice of "monkey wrenching," or
"eco-terrorism" as the mainstream media would have it.
Peacock claims to be not nearly as colorful as the character
Abbey imagined; he prefers solitude to groups and battles for
the protection of wilderness with his pen and his voice.
Although living with the Hayduke legacy strained Peacock's
friendship with Abbey, they remained close until Abbey's death
in 1989. But there's a lot more to Peacock than there is to any
fictional character, even one by a writer the stature of Abbey,
as Peacock's own books, articles, and film clearly demonstrate.
When he's not communing with the wilderness, he is dedicated
to working for its preservation.
In Peacock's view, wilderness is essential to the survival of
Homo sapiens as a species, and the question he poses is
relevant to everyone living on earth in the 21st century: Where
is our modern, consumer lifestyle taking us?
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