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Lions Roar : March 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2013 38 how wholly he threw himself into the valley, wanting to experi- ence it all, as if trying to make up for lost time. As if Houma and Pittsburgh had not been part of the world’s plan, but a waste, a loss, a sickness—one he had gotten over. He helped me pack out a huge cow elk one Halloween, beneath a full moon. We got lost, burdened beneath our meat- laden backpacks, each of which weighed over 150 pounds. We hiked down the steep mountain from far in the backcountry— the wayback of the wayback—and found ourselves down in a phantasmagoric cedar jungle, a series of holes and ravines where we kept losing our balance and falling down into earth-scented tree wells so deep that we couldn’t get back out without each other’s help. Sinking beneath our great bounty. Blood soaked our backs, leaking through the packs and adver- tising us to bears and lions, but we passed through that valley of darkness undisturbed. They say you can’t recall pain and I think that’s mostly true, but I also remember how our hips burned, toting that load, trudging through forests so dark that not even the reflected light from the October full moon could make it down through the canopy to land softly upon us. THE OPPONENTS OF WILDERNESS up here were not kind to Scott; they were not kind to me. When the woods near my house caught on fire, the politically charged fire department would not come to service the call. When an undetonated pipe bomb fell out from beneath a Forest Service truck, they said I had put it there. They set Scott’s truck on fire, and there were of course occasional death threats. We carried pistols under our seats, kept shotguns by our doors. It was not a healthy time but we came through the other side. Now we have a wilderness bill introduced in Congress and, perhaps as important, we have a finer civiliza- tion, a community where people no longer believe it’s a commu- nist threat to have a local farmers’ market or a conservation edu- cation program in the elementary school or poetry readings and music festivals, but instead view such things as the joys of life. The project closest to Scott’s heart was a community radio station. Untypically, his first dream was small. He envisioned a pirate radio station that would operate out of the back of the saloon or from a mobile unit on his truck and would broadcast all sorts of pro-wilderness messages, maddening his opponents and wearing them down psychologically. Into the thick fog of the Yaak, the word wilderness would fall again and again like snow upon the valley, day and night, blanketing it softly. But then it was like he grew up or something. He went all traditional—got a 501-c -3, wrote and secured grants, applied for licenses and permits, and finally started broadcasting from just across the state line, over in Idaho. A big-time public radio station with local progressive reporting, alternative music, and community service, it was a steady and continuous voice pro- moting nothing but good things, nothing but tolerance and hope, and slowly, steadily, it helped secure the community, the frightened little mountaintop civilization he had stumbled into. Scott didn’t single-handedly dream the civilization’s new archi- tecture or build its framework and foundation, but almost. With the ocean waters still so far away—a thousand miles away, and thousands of feet below—how can such a civilization go under? Such a civilization can never go under. 4. Above This is how it went after Scott gave the big guy—his own cousin— the finger and made his getaway: The next day, after Scott’s father and uncle had gone off to the mill, his cousin knocked on the door. How Scott must have dreaded the wait, waiting on that knock. I’ll tell him now what we told the girls at Silverwood: don’t be The old Atlantis was long submerged, yet here was a place where the foundation could be built anew. Even here, a billion years ago, there had once been an ocean.