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The Sun Magazine

The Natural World

Wildlife

The Sun Interview

A Walk On The Wild Side

Joe Hutto’s Life With Animals

I’m no expert on consciousness, but I’ve observed consciousness in other creatures my entire life. If we describe it as a state of being awake, being aware, then when you look at an animal, you see true wakefulness. Humans have created a sophisticated culture that serves as an insulating bubble, separating and protecting us from the environment, allowing us to relax such that we don’t have to be totally conscious. Most animals have to be at the helm of their ship all the time, or they die. They have multiple opportunities to die every day. Because humans don’t have that tension, our senses have become dull. Probably the only time that a human being experiences an animal level of awareness is in combat, where every second you might be in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle.

Fiction

The Donkey At The Gates Of The Kingdom Of Heaven

Once, a donkey ascended to the shining gates of the kingdom of heaven. The gates were open. The donkey heard music more beautiful than anything he had ever imagined. Each note was a star going supernova, a pack of wolves running down an elk over snow. The song poured itself into the world. The donkey stood transfixed. Without thinking, he opened his mouth wide and brayed.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

The Edge Of The World

The wide sweep of the northern Gulf of Mexico and the Apalachee Bay is in perpetual motion, reshaping, and at times reclaiming, my front yard. Alligator Harbor, with its clear shallows and deceptive currents — pulled by the moon, the sun, the trickster we call weather — defines and sculpts my backyard, revising boundaries and property lines, confounding appraisers and owners alike.

The Sun Interview

Every Reason To Stay

Eva Saulitis’s Life With Whales

I have to say, what kept me there was not the science but the place. I wanted to be there in a way that had purpose. I didn’t want to visit or go on long kayak trips. I wanted to spend my life in Prince William Sound. For five years I lived at a field camp for three or four months at a time. The work gave me a purpose for being there: a part to play in protecting the ecosystem.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

The Bird List

We started to keep a list — not just a traditional list of birds but a record of two lives coming together. We were strict, allowing on it only birds we saw in tandem. Anything experienced without the other didn’t count anymore. That first bird, Bullock’s oriole — black and white with a bright-orange belly — coincided with our first kiss, under a cloudless sky at Sunol Regional Wilderness Area.

Quotations

Sunbeams

What do you see when you look at an animal? A kindred spirit, a creature much like you; but possibly, the very next moment, a beast, a stranger, just an animal. Animals are like those pictures that we see as one thing and then another; the duck that suddenly becomes a rabbit; the wineglass that’s also an old woman in profile. Now the pig is a fellow creature, like Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web. Now he’s pork.

Jean Kazez

Photography

Faces

The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

— Henry Beston

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