“Some of the most memorable, and least regrettable, nights of my own youth were spent in coon hunting with farmers. There is no denying that these activities contributed to the economy of farm households, but a further fact is that they were pleasures; they were wilderness pleasures, not greatly different from the pleasures pursued by conservationists and wilderness lovers. As I was always aware, my friends the coon hunters were not motivated just by the wish to tree coons and listen to hounds and listen to each other, all of which were sufficiently attractive; they were coon hunters also because they wanted to be afoot in the woods at night. Most of the farmers I have known, and certainly the most interesting ones, have had the capacity to ramble about outdoors for the mere happiness of it, alert to the doings of the creatures, amused by the sight of a fox catching grasshoppers, or by the puzzle of wild tracks in the snow.” – From Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in the beauty on the water and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water, and I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world and am free.” – From Openings, 1968
“Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.”
*In Berry’s haunts, the world is in the words. One could spend as long a time in reading them, as he spent in writing them, and that is indeed, a good long time.
We highly recommend all of his books, including: