On our third day in residence at Earthfire, Jean and Susan brought Apricot out to the Wildlife Garden to visit with us. She walked through the grasses, her head low, sniffing the ground and slowly eyeing us with side-glances. This, Jean had taught us, was the wolf’s way of assessing who is in her midst. We, for this moment, were her pack: three artists, with Susan and Jean. Compared to the spritely Nightstar we met the day before, Apricot took her time connecting with us. In our first days, I was struck by many of the animals we had met—each their own being—but I had not yet had a deep connection with any animal in particular. We sat in the grass and listened to Susan tell stories about Apricot’s free spirit—how in her younger days she jumped off of the high rocks into the pool. I sat in the shade listening. After several days of letting in the ways of Earthfire, my pulse felt slower, my mind more open and free of attachment. Hoping to connect with Nightstar the day before, I realized I needed to let go of how and when I would connect with the animals. I could see that this is not about human time, or human willpower.
Apricot had disappeared by some rocks, immersed in her own discoveries. I fiddled with the grass. When I looked up Jean and Apricot were coming around the corner. In an instant I could see Jean communicating intently with Apricot. Leaning down as he walked beside her, the energy between them was visible. Within seconds, Apricot walked right up to my two fellow artists and greeted them briefly—they offered hands back to greet her. She moved on and came toward me. Sitting on the grass, I was at her eye level. She looked into my eyes as she approached me and came up to me—face to face—and offered sweet licks right to my lips. Kissed by a wolf. A trusting, generous creature—meeting me in that primal, open state. I expected nothing of her, and yet she gifted her spirit to me. My whole being opened up—my cells sprung alive, my heart crackled with her wolfness. Apricot, in that single intimate moment—became a love and a teacher.