Long before I knew the words “rewilding” or “primitivism”, back when I was even tinier than I am now, I’ve had a deep love of family, nature, history, and independence. Long before I even knew the words for those things. Classic Yu-Gi-Oh and its inaccurate representation of ancient Egypt are what got me into history, but there was never a time I didn’t feel at home in the woods, a bond with the plants and animals, just like another one of them. In kindergarten, I’d beg people not to take synthetic drugs because “they’ll make you sick”; this was long before my lifelong interest in biology led to me studying anatomy and herbal medicine in middle school. I guess it was just the instincts we’re just born with, but for me it never got brainwashed away.
So as far back as I can remember, since at least third grade, I’ve been a social outcast. My best friend was a dog, a boxer with his tail cut off and that tampon-cardboard stuffed in his ears to make them stay up. Most of my free time was spent running through the woods, exploring the secrets of my town, sparring with what few friends I had, nose buried in books. History, cosmology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, biology, botany, zoology, anatomy, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, theology, occult, fantasy…Pretty much anything that might teach me something. For some reason, people have a problem with hippies and geeks, so some severe bullying led to my near-arrest. I kinda spiraled downward from there until I met my current mate in my senior year of high school.
Another one like us, “rewilder” or whichever term you prefer, we helped each other put together all the signs in our lives. We have a purpose, there are others like us, others who wish to return to the Eden-state. We may be few and far between, but we are as few and far as we are meant to be. Nature will always rebalance and those who move with her will live. So now I roam when and where I can, honing my skills, seeking the life in all matter and every moment. The signs will guide you to your garden if only you listen.
I learn new things every day. Out foraging, I see new plants in places I never noticed before, new friends to visit and share with. Along the bank of a large foul-smelling drainage ditch in my town, I see tadpoles swimming, find the most beautiful snail shells, and watch a kingfisher swoop down and gobble up…one of those poor baby tadpoles? I pity my cousins for living in such nasty water, but just the algae alone proves that nature will always find a way. The town I live in is absolutely filthy but even the tiniest thickets hold sacred treasures.
I’m once again best friends with another dog, the queen bitch of all huskies. She takes after me. I learn so much just watching her interact with the world, checking the perimeter, picking out bones, hunting and foraging, etc. Canines are so much more intelligent than humans nowadays give them credit for. Their intelligence is just so much different than ours; they don’t hypothesize, wonder, analyze, at least not as far as I know, but rather are so in tune with their environment that such focused though would be counterproductive. I’m an extremely analytical nitpicky person, so I could learn a lot from this dog.
Not to say she isn’t nitpicky. I mentioned her picking out bones; well she sniffs them all carefully, takes a bone or stick from the pile to taste-test every now and then, neatly putting them back as she goes along, finally finding a chewthing that fits the right criteria. I watch her do this and wonder what does she smell, what is she looking for? On a regular basis, this dog also drops whatever she’s doing, does what appears to be a perimeter check around the house or yard, and then goes on with her day. She is very serious at these times, not upset but not her playful self either. I follow her and smell what she smells, examine what she examines, listen where she listens. I know territorial security is serious business, but I have to say it’s quite fun.
I’ve never been good at understanding human social cues. I can’t say canines language is easy, but it might at least be easier. Sometimes I have no clue what a bark, nip, nudge, or expression means, but sometimes between the context, past experience, and some feeling inside, I understand my dog friend as clearly as if she spoke English. I understand “shut up”, “stop crying”, “yes”, “no”, “give me a bite”, “I missed you”, and “get out of my way”. The other day we were chatting, chilling, listening to music, and she decided to sniff my face. So I sniffed back, sniffed at her mouth and nose like she was doing to me, and I can’t say I smelled much or understood, but I felt as if something was spoken regardless. It makes me wish other humans wold accept that we aren’t the only people.
What does rewilding mean to you? What do you wish our modern breed would understand? What have you learned? Who are your teachers?