Greetings, WILD READERS! I’m delighted and honored to begin my turn as guest moderator and to join the voices of the writers and other discussion facilitators who’ve led the way in this exciting new venture. It’s a special treat to follow Robert Michael Pyle’s musings on ditches and other “small wilds,” inspired by his excellent book, The Thunder Tree. Though I’ll be journeying through one of North America’s “big wilds” – the Central Brooks Range – I too will have some thoughts to share on the importance of neighborhood wild places. Both the nearby and faraway wilds have been essential to my own life. In fact the path that eventually led me to Alaska’s Arctic wilderness began in the Woods and the Swamp of my Connecticut homeland. As you might expect, that path was long and winding, with detours and some dead ends along the way (and of course the journey still continues).
Though many writers and editors helped to shape and polish the narrative, Scott Russell Sanders, more than anyone, was able to envision – and helped me to see – an approach that led to the book’s final structure, a story in three parts (plus epilogue) that follows my trek but which also allows me to move through space and time to other important periods of my life. And so Changing Paths became something of a memoir as well as a (quiet) adventure tale and a book about the Brooks Range and the importance of wilderness.