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Lions Roar : Nov 2007
40 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2007 I GREW UP in the maritime Pacific Northwest, on a farm north of Seattle where we kept a hen flock, had a small orchard, and tended dairy cows. My uncles were loggers, merchant seamen, or fishermen. After college, where I studied anthropology, literature, and East Asian culture, I had no choice but to go back to working in the woods and at sea. In the late fifties I worked in the engine room on an Amer- ican-flag oil tanker that hired me out of the port of Yokohama. I was a member of the National Maritime Union and had my seaman’s papers, and it wasn’t hard to pick up a job in almost any port of the world. That ship kept me at sea for a continuous nine months. Two things touched me deeply on that job: one was the stars, night after night, at every latitude, including way below the equator. With my little star book and red-beam flashlight I mastered the constellations of the southern hemisphere. The other was getting to know the birds of the ocean. I loved watching the albatross—a few of those huge, graceful birds would always be cruising along behind our ship, trailing the wake for bits of food. I learned that a Wandering Albatross (of the southern hemisphere) might fly a million miles in one lifetime, and that it takes a pair of them almost a year to raise one chick. Night and day, they always followed us, and if they ever slept it seems it was on the wing. Last year a study was released describing the sudden decline of albatross numbers worldwide. It even prompted an editorial in the New York Writers & the War Against Nature Buddhism, art, and environmentalism—all honor the beauty and magic of the natural GARY SNYDER traces his lifelong commitment to the environment and calls on all The Wandering Albatross has the largest wing- span of any bird, averaging 10 feet. It can travel up to a million miles during its 40- to 60-year lifespan. PHOTO © GREG LASKEY NOV 40-47.indd 40 NOV 40-47.indd 40 8/29/07 2:09:40 PM 8/29/07 2:09:40 PM