I was sad to see the news this morning that Farley Mowat has died, and I feel the need to make some sort of tribute. I first became aware of him through The Dog Who Wouldn't Be and Owls in the Family. Then I got hooked on his Arctic books, the adventures in the high north, the stories of the natives and the fragile climate. It's because of him I have this desire to go dog sledding, to tour the Arctic, to explore Canada. It's because of him I am slogging through this latest manuscript I'm trying to write for Covenant. I think of him as the last of the great northern adventurers. He had a zest for life and wasn't afraid of difficult things. He was that way as a child, too, exploring the rivers and fields of Toronto. It seemed he was always curious about the world and open to experience, willing to stretch and risk. Above all, he was a vivid storyteller, his practical and simple words having a powerful impact on my imagination. They sparked ideas and evoked images that got me thinking.
He once said that the best thing you could do would be to buy a piece of land and then leave it alone. Just take the human element out of the equation, instead of always trying to impose human influence on everything. I feel the same way about nature, and this statement felt right and solid to me. It's what I want to do.
I wish I had discovered him a little sooner, in time to meet him. I wish I could be as confident and curious and energetic as he was. I wish my words were as powerful.