Walks-in-my-Footsteps, the Mexican Gray Wolf that I had come to know so intimately in the wild has been dead for over two years now. I would like to honor him yet one more time, or, as the daughter of a friend of mine has said to me: tell everybody about him so they know... Here is our story, one more time, so you know about him and he will not be forgotten...
The father and First Hunter of the Hawk’s Nest Family was shot over two years ago. He and his family had not been killing any cattle in their territory. This is the story I wrote about him right after I learned that he had been killed:
I call him “Walks-in-my-footsteps” and we had forged a special bond just a few weeks ago when I was visiting his territory in Arizona. His paw prints on top of my footprints on top of his paw prints are on a tape that I recorded and that I will hold onto for dear life.
As always I feel like a family member has died, which is no surprise to me since I feel connected to all of life on a deep level and have an extraordinarily strong bond to the wolf nation. As always, his death was a senseless act of ignorance paired with the right to bear arms. Beauty in action, presence in motion got all wiped out by a bullet.
But I digress. IT IS MY AIM TO PRESERVE HIS BEAUTY WITH MY WORD, not to espouse my grief. To let you know who we have lost so that we might preserve that beauty in the future. I could be furiously knitting or gardening to alleviate my grief. But I choose love over anger and I choose writing over crying now. I have to tell you who he was…
He was among the first Mexican Gray Wolves in the wild that I have ever seen. We had just arrived in his territory and I was setting up my tent among the trees when I could feel their presence. “They have been here just recently” was the first thought that I had. My system went on high alert and my heart started to sing. I had barely put up the tent when again, I felt something deep and whole and primal and instinctive. I looked up and there they were; four of them together. He was among them, with his mate and yearling offspring by his side.
I was so touched by their magical visit and their curious unafraid gaze with which they greeted us, their graceful dance towards the cattle fence and how they took it in stride, making Houdini look like a dilettante that I wrote poetry right after their appearance:
…You dance towards the fence
Away from our human presence
With that gait which is yours truly
Going through life an artist
Of hunting and prowling
Playing and stalking
Rearing pups and frolicking
Taking down your food as a team
My heart is wide open now
Its gaze is following your silhouettes
I cannot discern the cumbersome collars
Wrapped around your slender necks
You take the fence in stride
The Houdinis of the wide-open range
Dancing through barbwire
Like it was invisible mesh
When you are out of sight
I continue weeping with awe
And behold the blessing of your visit
To make it a keep save for my life.
The wolves have inspired me to be like them, fearless, curious, graceful, present and guided by their intact instinctual nature. I have since practiced their art of living and being and integrated it into my own life. It has changed that very life.
“Walks-in-my-footsteps”. He had made contact with me back then and again and again ever since. He gave me the honor of walking in my footsteps so that I might know him and feel his spirit. And I did feel his spirit in the core of my being where intuition and wholeness lie, many times. I communicated with him and wished him and his pack well, told them of my love for them and brought some special friends into his territory to share the blessing of the wolf presence with those I hold dear and who would understand.
I still feel him in my heart and I in turn honor him tonight with my words. Yet I know that he “Will-never-walk-in-my-footsteps-again”. And the world and my life are emptier because of it.