One typical Saturday morning I found myself in the hills south of Livingston, unfolding my paraglider wing and setting off for an adventure in the warm autumn air. Daily Lake sparkled below as I sorted out the lines connecting the harness to the wing. I started running for the takeoff; the wing popped as it filled with air. Suddenly all was quiet. Air rushed past my helmet as I left the earth, and soon I found a thermal and was taken up, up, and away as the altimeter beeped with every foot of elevation gained. I was soaring with the birds, coasting around Paradise Valley in front of snowy, jagged Emigrant Peak. After a half-hour or more of taking in the sights from my elevated seat in the sky, I was reminded, as always, of life on the ground, and I began my descent to the valley floor.
While scouting out a good landing zone, I flew right over the top of a badger! A coiled mass of grey-and-white muscle just a stone’s throw below, his striped face snarled up at me in a look of both fright and ferocity—he was just as surprised to see me, and wanted to let me know this was his turf, not mine. I turned around and watched the fierce little beast stare and growl after me as I sailed by. I was obviously an intruder in this bad-ass badger’s home.
After touchdown, I folded up my wing and stuffed it in my backpack. Walking back to the car, I thought of all of those poor people stuck in city life, often oblivious to changes in seasons, a rising trout, a perfect granite crack, and the sudden appearance of a very wild creature. There’s a wide, wide world outside of that modern-day box filled with lattés and laptops. You just have to reach out and grasp it.