A Centenary Celebration Contribution
By Murray Palmer — Peterborough, Canada
The Cardboard sign propped up on a rock pile at the concession road along the highway driven by the bus to Sudbury read: “Murray Palmer, Wait Here. I’ll Be Back for You.”
A station wagon pulled up, and the rugged but handsome man driving it said, “If you’re Murray Palmer, get in.” Thus started an almost 25 year relationship that became the most rewarding part of my life.
Ron was so different from anyone I knew in his commitment to lifestyle and proper approaches to wildlife study and conservation-related behavior and ethics.
Ron was very perceptive, and somehow “knew” my strengths and weaknesses, telling me I was more writer than clinical biologist.
He taught me there was more truth to be gained in field study of wild animals’ behavior than what could be found in publications still clinging to outdated explanations.
So many of Ron’s books are pure joy to read, but “Paddy: A Naturalist’s Story of an Orphan Beaver” ~ partly because of the nature of the habitat in which the story takes place, and partly for its rational explanations of various behaviors that have been incorrectly interpreted historically ~ impressed me deeply.
The most likely advice Ron would give people to help them reconnect with the natural world would be to be willing to see each organism as an individual adapting in its own way to survive, instead of employing a blanket view of how all members of a species or ecological community “ought” to respond to life’s challenges. That they should apply the same tolerant consideration to strangers as to their friends. And that people should analyze their own ecological footprint, and eliminate harmful practices such as use of bottled water or interfering with nesting, hunting and foraging, or roosting and wintering birds and other wild animals.
Two humorous anecdotes I’d like to share…
Tundra*, in Ron’s presence near the entrance of the wolf enclosure (at the Lawrence’s Wolf Hollow wildlife sanctuary) lay on his side and shot me with a strong stream of urine. Fresh wolf pee doesn’t smell bad, so I never did wash the coat it adorned. It’s not just anyone who gets shot with high calibre wolf pee, you know.
On another day when Ron and I were in the wolf enclosure, I bent over and in doing so split the crotch of my pants from end to end – loudly – at which Ron laughed heartily, bringing Tundra on the run from another part of the enclosure to see what all the excitement was about. Sharon to the Rescue!
Cry Wild Editor’s Notes:
*Tundra – One of a number of wolves who spent long, active and joyful lives educating the humans who visited their home at Wolf Hollow. See: “In Praise of Wolves.”
*Sharon – As in the inimitable Sharon Frise Lawrence, writer, artist, public speaker and wife of the late R.D. Lawrence.