Farley Mowat (1921-2014)
The Canadian writer and environmentalist Farley Mowat has died. My introduction to his work was the movie, Never Cry Wolf which led me to Mowat's original text and thence to other titles. This discovery came not long after moving to Arizona and first learning of Edward Abbey, a writer of similar sentiment if not style. Mowat, along with Abbey and others of their ilk greatly influenced my view and love of the natural world.
His view and understanding of nature was enough to draw my attention but what truly bound me to Mowat was his 1979 World War memoir, And No Birds Sang. I read it in the late 80's or so and recall it as a harrowing read. Mowat captures the fear and endurance and determination of an infantry soldier in a way that comes only from experience. Knowing that Mowat was an infantryman added to his credibility in my mind.
No Man's River chronicles Mowat's return to civilian life after the war. The transition is a difficult one that leads him to abandon his job shooting specimens on a scientific expedition to the Barrens of north Manitoba. From that account it's easy to see how Mowat became the outspoken environmentalist barred from entering the US by the Reagan Administration. What I remember most from reading No Man's River is how incredibly self-sufficient Mowat's indigenous hosts were to live in such a remote and hostile world. He would not have lasted long without their skills.
Above all Farley Mowat was a fine writer with a great deal of respect and love for our planet.