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Fire And Ice - Excerpts

Editor: Fire And Ice: Disturbing the comfortable and comforting the disturbed while tracking our wildest dreams was published in 2004 by the  independent Apeshit Press. At times a rant, at times a moving and lyrical personal exploration of  life "at the ragged edge of civilization," Fire And Ice is an invitation to a feral fellowship. "Our dream," write authors Laurel Luddite and Skunkly Monkly, "is to be part of a wilderness defense campaign aimed at protecting the wild in ourselves." Reprinted with permission.

As far back as I can remember I have been aware of train whistles. I tried to keep a schedule of the trains I could hear from my bed, hiding the notebook under my mattress. The times I wrote down always seemed random and the trains never stopped. Still I would look as far as I could up the tracks where they cut through the golf course in that suburban town. I was always plotting escape.

Tom became my hero one morning when I was walking to school and saw his picture on a telephone pole. His dad had made fliers saying "missing" above Tom's photo, with a description and a number to call if you wanted to turn him in. I knew he wasn't missing. He had run. I looked at that flier a long time, then tore it down along with every other copy I saw. When he showed up at school again he autographed one for me. A few months later I ran myself.

I picked a direction and started biking. A few hours later the pavement ended just as I'd hoped and the desert reclined before me. I stepped over the barbed wire and stashed my bike in the saguaro forest. Then I unbungeed my gear and squatted down to make my blanket into a sling pack. A coyote trotted by. She disappeared, then ran past again, back the way she came. I was excited as I went back to packing my things. She must have been a scout. I looked up and the whole pack was running directly toward me. They were swift and gorgeous with bright red tongues lolling. The pack split, and four or so passed on either side of me, some nearly close enough to touch. Gratitude froze me. I would not risk disturbing the gift of their presence by drawing attention to myself, though I wished I'd be invited to go along. i never could have kept up. Besides, I was going my own way and my trip had been blessed.

It's been over a year now since I first skinned a deer and learned about cutting muscles for meat. My friends found three road kills in two nights; they were more than happy to turn the knife over to me. The responsibility made me nervous at first. As I cut I began to feel confident that not only could I butcher this deer, but I could also fulfill my need for food whenever I saw some lying by the side of the road.

This was a time when I thought I was starving. I wasn't physically so much as emotionally underfed, with needs I couldn't even acknowledge. One night I smelled food cooking and looked at the pieces of backstrap in the skillet, at the cans of salmon caught in Alaska by my friends, at their faces in the soft lamplight. Something finally started to fill up in me. I am not starving, I thought. I'm hungry, but I will not starve.

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