I am a Los Angeles native and the “nature” I usually encounter is at the theater. In Hollywood, nature is a construction, compiled and then abridged by the movie industry: you have your one shot of a distant lone wolf behind a forest that’s probably computer generated. The aura you get from this movie wolf is also nonexistent—you can’t reach out and touch him from your seat. So the first time I saw and touched a wolf at the Earthfire Institute, I was completely blown away. No, I did not have some hokey Hollywood experience. Instead, I had something palpable. Our first wolf was named Cucumber and she was wise and old. She approached me very quietly. Cucumber let me touch her fur and then sat down in the garden for us to admire her in all of her wild beauty. She let me photograph her. The next wolf we met was Nightstar, a young girl pup new to the Earthfire Institute. Unlike Cucumber, who was gentle and slow, Nightstar zipped around the garden. She was my favorite to capture on video—a very exuberant and curious wolf.
I learned very fast that each animal is a complex and multi-dimensional being with individual characteristics. No two animals are alike. Just like people, you cannot assign wolves or bears or buffalo one kind of personality. This knowledge is very sacred to me as I feel like I have connected with the animals here at Earthfire. Forget L.A.! Coming to Earthfire was an experience a city girl like me has never had before—I saw nature for the first time as infinite and undefinable beauty. There were no computer screens or movie theaters involved. It was just us and the animals.
I will never forget my time with Cucumber, Nightstar, and all the other animals and I will never forget the Earthfire Institute.