December 15, 2017

Black Wolf

Coming face to face with a full grown black wolf of the large timber wolf family isn’t exactly a day to day experience for most people – even for those of us living in the vastness of the north lands they inhabit.

But when it happens – like it did to me in the late ’80’s – it’s an amazingly powerful experience never to be forgotten.

Economic conditions of the day were leading me and my pickup truck on a circuit of the local landfills in our region in search of bottles and cans redeemable for cash at the recycling center.

Entering one of those sites this particular day I saw a van parked straight ahead near the lumber scrap pile, with a couple of fellows rooting through the pile for salvageable items.

The road to the pit I was headed for though turned an abrupt left shortly after entry, leading past a small buffer zone of trees and underbrush along the right side of it. As I cruised slowly past these trees I noticed movement inside them and stopped the vehicle to get a better look. Partially obscured though it was, at first glance I immediately thought to myself “That’s an awfully big black dog – looks like he’s at least half wolf”.

I watched for a few moments as it looked straight back at me, and then backed the truck up to drive over to the two fellows working the lumber pile. I asked them if they had a dog with them and told them about the big one I’d seen in the nearby patch of trees who looked like he was half wolf. When they answered in the negative I turned the truck around again and headed back towards my original destination. I noticed the animal was gone as I passed by the patch of trees.

It was only when I pulled the vehicle into the large clearing around the pit that I saw him again. He was standing by the right hand corner of the tall wire mesh fence that enclosed the hole, head held high and calmly watching my approach.

Now that I could see him clearly there was no doubt whatsoever about his species. This was a pure coal black timber wolf who stood near two and a half feet tall at the shoulder, yellow of eye, strong of limb, powerful and proud in his carriage and utterly magnificent in every way you could think of to describe him. His was a beauty which only the natural living creatures of the wild have the capability of achieving.

I recall my own sense of utter calm which flowed over me at the sight and I deliberately pulled the truck within fifteen feet of him before coming to a stop and shutting it off, then climbed out and closed the door of it before taking two deliberate paces forward toward the black wolf. He simply watched me through every move.

As soon as I came to a stop a respectful distance from him, this awesome specimen of the wild cocked his huge wedge shaped head to the side as though to invite my words to him.

And speak to him I did, with words that poured unscripted and spontaneously from a heart filled with respect and gratitude for the opportunity given me to voice them to him in this way.

I thanked him for the opportunity and the honor I felt in meeting him like this, explaining to him the purpose of my visit here and asking his permission to share this space. I told him I would be happy to leave any food I found out for him to enjoy, and thanked him for listening to my words.

When I’d finished speaking he straightened his head back up and performed a remarkable maneuver in answer to me – he bobbed his head up and down three times very deliberately (I counted them) – and then calmly turned around to leave, but took only a couple of steps away before he decided to turn around and walk straight back towards me.

Halting at a distance of only ten or so feet from me he again cocked his head to the side inviting further words from me. And again I repeated my earlier words of intent in being here and reiterated my promise to him, speaking to him with a complete confidence of mind from a heart filled with a depth of respect he was clearly able to sense within me.

And once more that huge wedge head straightened itself and bobbed up and down three more deliberate times in response, as though confirming to both the understanding reached between us before he turned around and simply walked off into the screen of trees surrounding the site.

I spent two hours there going about my business, with no fear in my heart and never once looking up to see if he’d come back to watch me. The truth is I was feeling protected and guarded by his presence in the area in a way I’d never before experienced; and I recall very clearly too the immense senses of honor and gratitude for this encounter which filled me during the hours spent there.

It’s an honor and a gratitude to the spirit of the black wolf which has never left me, and an incident which proved to be a harbinger of things related to the wolf which were yet to occur in my life.

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