Wolf Tracks

There were wolf tracks on the gravel road. In the mountains where we live that shouldn’t be odd. But it is. I can only recall seeing a wolf once before in four years so the tracks surprised me.

            Standing at the side of the road while the dog snooped about at the strange scent I felt the aura of wildness all around me. It was powerful and brought with it whirls of ideas and shards of knowledge. Wolves are creatures of mystery. They are beasties of the full moon and long shadow.

            They’re part of our own primordial past, a link to that time when we were bands of wanderers, all of us, seeking shelter in fire, in community, in each other. The tracks angled off into the trees eventually but the wolf’s presence was palpable and exciting.

            Returning to my workspace, switching on the computer, and checking emails it occurred to me how easily we create distance between ourselves and that world. Steps away from the head of the driveway, a wolf lurked. But instantaneously I’m in cyberspace and galaxies away from that connection. It was a jarring realization.

            As a native person whose ceremonial and spiritual sense comes from a relationship with the land, I don’t feel comfortable knowing I can shut it off like a light switch. As a human being with stewardship obligations to the planet that’s my home, I’m embarrassed. As a writer often expressing themes of kinship I’m stunned by it.

            Maybe there’s something bigger in a wolf track than anomaly. Maybe there are teachings in things, like my people say, meant to draw us back into relationship, to our kinship with the planet. Or, perhaps, jolts of wild are necessary conduits to a reordering of how we spend out time here, reminders that we are animals too and we need to form a pack and help each other.

            I don’t know. All I know for sure,  is that something as simple as a wolf track in the mud of a burgeoning summer is enough to confound me.

            That’s what’s worth holding – that palpable mystery. That charge in the belly that says ‘we are not alone’ and ‘you can not order everything.’ The planet is not here for us. Rather, we are here for the planet. Something as simple as a wolf track can take us back to that.


About Richard Wagamese

I am a published author with 13 titles published by major Canadian publishers. I am a First Nations person from the Ojibway Nation in Northwestern, Ontario, Canada. As a professional writer since 1979 I have written for newspaper, radio television, magazines and book publishing. I love the culture of books and the people who populate it. 2012 recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Media & Communications. View all posts by Richard Wagamese

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