Craig Childs does things most of us would never dream of doing, even if we do happen to enjoy hiking, camping, backpacking, peeing outdoors and lugging around enough weight to give us back issues for life. He lived in a tipi through a cold winter. He walks into southern Utah's most barren, rugged landscapes to search for water, petroglyphs, signs of ancient life. He treks through the Mexican desert at night and shuffles through the sand with no boots. Sometimes he just walks out into the middle of nowhere for the same reason people climb Everest; not because it's there, but just because.
In The Animal Dialogues, he writes of his encounters with wildlife over the year, from inadvertent meetings with grizzlies, mountain lions, owls, mountain goats and mosquitos so persistent they can drive a man mad.
Here he marvel at the resilience of coyotes:
"Coyote numbers, by nature of female biology, are designed for rebound. Coyotes are the first species to occupy a devastated area in the way evening primroses grow in the turned sand of roadways. Female coyotes living in areas under light predator control have three to four uterine swellings in a year, each leading to litters of three to four pups. Where the killing of coyotes is more popular, females hve around nine uterine swellings. Start shooting coyotes, and they start having more pups."
Childs is kind of like a noncranky Edward Abbey, more self deprecating but equally in tune with the natural world and our ties to it. Also he doesn't throw beer cans out of the windows of his truck, or at least, he doesn't write about it.
To read more about The Animal Dialogues, go here.