What We Know But Cannot Explain, Exactly.
I know, that's a mouthful-- but I've been thinking about what we know about life on earth, animals, and plants, and people-- but cannot explain-- exactly. How sometimes I have locked eyes not with a dog, or a chicken, that I expect to communicate with-- but something wilder-- like a raven hopping on the beach, an eagle in a tree or even a moose on a trail-- and how our eyes said something a lot like hello, or everything is okay, or fear not-- without any words. Yesterday I visited Steve Kroschel's wildlife center with Grandma Joanne who is 83 and June who is 93 and also visiting Haines this week, and my friend Stephanie who is a flower farmer and used to be the mayor-- and a bunch of tourists from places as different as Taiwan and North Carolina. One of them said it was easily the highlight of his trip.
And I too have been thinking about our two hours in that funky, whacky, and yet somehow so moving and profoundly enlightening place in the bushes out by Mosquito Lake, 26 miles from Haines. (June kept marveling about how it was all "cobbled together" from scraps of lumber,logs, metal, and old fencing, and how much time it must have taken to create- and how much time it must take to maintain.)
Still, you can't witness Steve and Mario Benassi, who are old friends, film makers, and business partners and who give the tour of what isn't a zoo, or a park, but is more like a training center for animal movie stars and a way of life-- they live with the animals, and the animals clearly adore them. Steve is like a rustic Dr. Doolittle in bare feet and ragged clothes. His voice goes all sing-songey when he plays with a wolvervine. (Yes, a wolverine. The largest weasel, and a killing machine in the wild. Steve's licks him and tumbles around in the dirt with him--.) When he's with his wolf it could be anyone else with a dog. And Mario had that red tailed hawk on his hand as he talked to us-- and they have a way of communicating, too.
When we got home Grandma Joanne said it was as if all that she knows of the universe had been in some ways confirmed, and in others expanded. While it is hard to describe just why and how that can be, I understood exactly what she meant.