Skie Bender – Education Outreach Specialist
Weaving my old truck through Capitol Forest towards the small timber town of Montesano, (population 3,500) the cobalt blue sky gives way to a rolling mass of gray. Montesano, birthplace of tree farming, became the nation’s first tree farm in 1941.
At 11 a.m. I arrive at the Montesano Library ready to share my passion and knowledge of wolves with the citizens. Once a week the Montesano Library hosts an adult lunch time program appropriately titled, Food For Thought. People pack a lunch from home and bring it to the library where they enjoy eating while listening to the speaker of the week.
Today Wolf Haven has been chosen as speaker of the week, and I am the mouthpiece. Crunching apples, chewy cheese sandwich and sips from soda can sounds filled the room as I began the wolf talk with a long streamline hooooowwwwl. Masticating mouths froze. Breaths held still. Ears pricked up.
Once I completed the howl, I allowed for a moment of silence.Then asked everyone to imagine that they bought a “get-away” cabin for the purpose of“getting-back-to-nature”. No TV. No computer. No phone. No technological distractions.Only pure primal sounds like the wind blowing, leaves rustling, trees creaking, wild animals moving deliberately through the underbrush, and the snap-flap of a hawks wide strong wings.
I continue. “It is dusk. You peacefully sit outside on the porch of your cabin feeling at one with the nature that surrounds you. Then one forlorn howl rises over the west hills, that solitary howl is soon joined by another and another, until there is a surround sound of howls, each varying in tone and inflection.
The next morning you go into town to the General Store to buy some supplies. You discreetly ask the cashier, ‘Are there wolves around here?’ She answers, ‘Oh yes, Lots of Wolves.’ Other folks in the store overhear and chime in, ‘This is wolf central. You are in wolf country. There are more packs here than anywhere else in the country.’ ”
Returning to Library consciousness – I ask the group – “How does this make you feel?” Greatly appreciating the candid answers, a few of the responses I get are:
“Less adventurous about exploring areas around my new cabin.”
“Worried for my dogs.”
“Excited about the wolf packs around me.”
“I won’t let my children play in the woods.”
I begin the slideshow, which is primarily about wolves in Washington State, but delves into general wolf issues such as the historic and current ranges of wolves, species of wolves, wolf/livestock conflict and management. As always at these presentations there are an array of questions that range from scientific to philosophical.
Between you and me – The best part about being the teacher/speaker is how much I get to learn!