Monday, May 5, 2014

Living, breathing Mama Earth

I loved reading this short story. It wove a brief tale of the thrill of a human being interacting with the extreme outdoors- the pack of killer whales. But it was much more than that. It was also a beautifully written history of Glacier Bay and detailed exploration of the animals and organisms that fill the area.
I liked the focus on the dichotomy of life and death in the natural world. The way that Cahill compared nature to a human body stuck out to me: "The old woman in the ice gives birth to her children-- the great slabs of ice that calve off the tidewater glaciers and thunder into the sea" (253) or "the rising sun...with crimson that suggested a great heart pumping inside the ice" (255). Feeling surrounded by the ups and down of the living and dying of the natural world was beautiful and humbling to read about. Cahills' fleeting fear of resembling a seal provokes a smile but also illuminates how vulnerable we feel when put amidst the hustle and bustle of extreme wilderness.

I liked this story because it reminds me of why I enjoy being outdoors-- seeing an incredible view or a moose up close makes me feel  a sense of "wondrous privilege" (249). This, to me, is such a unique, indescribable feeling, that it felt really wonderful to read the work of someone who found a great way to describe it. I think this short story encompasses a sense of adventure, curiosity, and uncertainty while also accounting for our human vulnerability and the strength and wonder of the wild world.


  1. I completely agree with your sentiment here. There is very little better than seeing nature in its natural habitat, especially up close and personal. I agree with both your and Rachel's posts regarding the appreciation of nature and the differentiation between this piece and the works we've examined throughout the semester. While many of the authors have commented on the scenery around them throughout the adventures, the adventures have been the central topic, with little left to the readers to picture the scenery. I liked this piece because of this differentiation. There was much more of a focus on getting the reader to see what Cahill sees - and I appreciated that.

  2. I too agree with you both. I think this was a good story to end with because of everything you both have mentioned. Cahill made the environment actually come alive to the reader. I felt the same kind of fear that Cahill did when he described how he may have been mistaken for a seal, and I could almost see that pack of orcas rush toward me. Although not a traditional adventure story, like Rizzo said, his attention to detailing his experience and his surrounding embodies the sense of adventure and wonder of the natural world.