The Wolf, the Woman, the Wilderness is a story I have partially written about in a previous post. It follows the journey of Teresa tsimmu Martino, the author, and a little wolf pup she adopts as they each learn about what it means to be free and wild. Teresa realises the little wolf, Mckenzie, cannot stay in confinement forever and it is her duty to release her companion back ‘into the wild’.
One of Teresa’s major obstacles is finding a suitable place to release Mckenzie. Somewhere with enough wolves that Mckenzie will have a good chance of finding a pack, but not with such a high population density that there is too much competition for resources. If Teresa releases the little wolf too far north she will be in an area where wolves are even more persecuted and climate is harsher. In a national park there is the danger of Mckenzie being spotted and causing a stir with park authorities (sighting a new wolf in a territory is huge news!). In harder-to-access wilderness there is a higher chance of her being hunted.
She first releases Kip, the little black fox she had also adopted from Mckenzie’s sanctuary. It is easier to find an area for him – foxes do not even compare to the wolf when it comes to human rivalry. They mostly live out their lives unnoticed, and it makes Teresa’s decision on a release site much easier. When the day comes for his release, she sits down to have lunch with her wolf and hybrid, and opens Kip’s box thinking he will stay with them a while. Instead, he turns tail and scurries off to the trees with a last “sympathetic look”. Teresa feels not betrayed, or offended, but sadly surprised. She understands he has made his choice, and waits around until the evening in case he pops back. She does not see him again, though, and takes the wolves back to their home, pondering freedom.
“Kip’s freedom reminds me that we must find out way back to the centre of the world to stand on the peak, arms raised, palms open, and cry into the circling wind. We want our spirits back… Do I go live in the wilderness or do I create community wildness and form my own pack? Are we any different in emotion and thought from the people who lived before us? Have we just traded dreams?
Kip was sympathetic because my choice is hard.”
Teresa takes Mckenzie hunting often, to prepare her for release. She needs to know Mckenzie can hunt and kill on her own before letting her go. A howl will usually bring Mckenzie back from however far ahead she may be, but Teresa notices she becomes less and less inclined to head back to the car for the journey to the cabin. Teresa knows the release will be hard, but is more worried about Mckenzie deciding to stay in the wild before she is truly ready. She knows, however, that the wolf will make her own choice.
I feel a huge sadness as I come to the end of the book, nearer and nearer to Mckenzie’s release. I feel like sometimes the bonds we make with another soul are so strong that they just shouldn’t ever be broken. Teresa feels this way for Mckenzie – the wolf is her daughter, and her life will not be the same without her. Teresa’s own mother told her that your aim as a parent is to teach your children to live without you; you are successful when they do not need you anymore. So she pushes her emotional mindset to the side and instead looks to the good of this creature, this wild thing that every day becomes more and more frustrated in confinement.
Sometimes you could see the wolves at the White Wolf Sanctuary frustrated at their confinement. The centre is so big, though, and although it is split into different-sized ‘habitats’, there is plenty of space to run, jump, even swim. But too long in one habitat and the wolves would be ready to move on. In the wild they will roam miles in a day. They make their territories, come back to build dens, but there is that freedom of travel and the hunt. But looking at how many wolves are persecuted and slaughtered in their own wilderness, there is no feasible space for a group of Arctic wolves out there safely. Teresa certainly would not have released Mckenzie if she had not found a suitable area.
The moment when Teresa finally decides to release Mckenzie was so difficult to read! They go hiking together, in the spot Teresa has chosen, but she heads back down the mountain to her car after a while. She is afraid she has left Mckenzie to die, that the young wolf isn’t ready, but she drives home knowing she must give the wolf a chance. I won’t go into the end of the book, it is filled with tension, and even the happy parts of fulfilment are bittersweet to me; I can’t get over these emotional bonds we create with one another! Teresa will always miss and think of Mckenzie, who will have a shorter lifespan out in the wilderness – but she will be living her wild life – but as long as she has some sign that the young wolf can survive on her own, she will be able to accept her decision.
I’m going to switch to a complete different situation here, but lately I have been thinking about little Greywind’s rehoming. Just before the weekend I had been contacting by a gentleman asking to meet Greywind – he and his wife had previously owned a Lonely Miaow kitten that had tragically gone missing a few months ago, and they were ready to adopt another. To be honest this was the perfect situation for Grey; a couple that had patience for a shy little ex-stray cat. But those first few days play on my mind; how absolutely petrified she will be while she gets used to a new home and new family. It makes me almost feel as though I am breaking her trust; it took so much care and careful interaction to allow her to understand she is safe with me, and now she just adores me – there is no other way to put it. I feel like a bad foster mum by putting her in a situation where she is going to be afraid and unable to understand what is going on. But, I just have to think of the greater good for her; people absolutely ready to welcome her into their home with care, patience and understand is just what she needs.
On the weekend the couple came to meet Grey (and the other kittens). She was terrified, and hid on her crate in the bathroom. They were amazingly patient, hung out with her one-by-one quietly, and told me they had fallen in love with her photos. I was chuffed knowing I’m not the only one who thinks she’s a stunning animal! The possible adopters were fantastic; asked all about her personality, assured me they had been through a similar situation with their last Lonely Miaow cat (who was also extremely shy around strangers), and even asked me which of the other kittens Grey got along with the most as they were thinking about adopting a second for company.
As their visit progressed, I tried to get myself more and more into the mindset that Grey had found her forever home. I knew it was perfect. I couldn’t imagine anyone else being so patient and accepting of her. Dot, Caspian and Indi were over-playful though, and were extremely entertaining – in the end, it was Dot and Caspian that ended up heading off to their new home! Grey was just too shy, and the couple were satisfied she wouldn’t be out of a home if they didn’t take her. She’ll always have a home with me, if nobody else comes for her. So I ended up saying farewell to little Dot and Caspian (who is probably going to be nicknamed ‘Pants’, which is hilariously fitting), and I was so pleased with the outcome. Those two little trouble makers are going to make great pets, and I know they will provide endless entertainment. It’s so amazing they got adopted together; they truly are the unstoppable duo. I couldn’t have asked for better.
So here Grey remains, with little Indi and Jas. The house is certainly quieter. I got home from work tonight and the girls seemed very subdued. The weather is definitely cooler, but they weren’t screaming for their evening meal of natural meat that they love so much. Instead, all three are curled up around me and the heater. I think about leaving for Thailand in three weeks, and I wonder if any of them will still be here when I return.