Shadow Mountain
Renee Askins

I have so much to learn from people who connect to animals as if equals.

I can abstract this sense but I don’t live it other than by learning from those who do. I never really liked having pets. I have not spent time in the wild. And I am not able to whisper or hear whispers from any animal.

There is, however, something about the wolf eyes that mesmerize me. That feels be superficial. Nevertheless, this memoir caught my imagination. Here is a description. And, as one who lacks in this sensibility of real identification across species, I stay the course to update my perspective as best I can. Writings like this is one tool to that end.

“Part memoir, part meditation, part love story, Shadow Mountain is an impassioned commentary on how our connection to the wild can rescue or destroy us.

While completing an undergraduate research thesis, Renée Askins was given a two-day-old wolf pup to raise. Named Natasha, the pup, was destined for a life in captivity. Through her work with Natasha and her siblings, Askins developed a deep, fierce love for the species. On the day Natasha was unexpectedly taken from her and sent to a remote research facility, Askins made a promise to the wolf pup: “Your life, your sacrifice, will make a difference.” And it did.

Renée Askins spent the next fifteen years in the grueling effort to restore wolves to Yellowstone, where they had been exterminated by man some seventy years before. The campaign’s popularity with the American public aroused the rage of the western ranching community and their powerful political allies in Washington. She endured death threats, years of contentious debate and political manipulations, and heartbreaking setbacks when colonizing wolves were illegally killed. But in March 1995, Askins witnessed the realization of her mission when wolves were released into their native home in Yellowstone–the first wolves to be found there in almost a century.

A born storyteller, Renée Askins offers moving and vibrant examples of the reciprocity that exists between man and animal. And, like a wolf in the shadows, Askins circles the issues surounding the conundrum of embracing wild nature. Shadow Mountain explores the wildness present within animals and humans, urging us to recognize both its light and its shadow–its power to heal and harm. Roaming from wolves to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, from passion to politics, Shadow Mountain is the story of shared struggles and destinies, of failure and redemption, and offers insight into how we can mend our contentious relationship with wildness by understanding the power of the wild to guide and shape us.”

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