Monday, April 19, 2010

The Wolves

Timber wolves diorama
American Museum of Natural History

Is it any wonder that this is one of my favorite things in the world? It resides deep within the Hall of Mammals in a narrow and dark passage way in the Museum of Natural History. It is always night in that hallway, always, and the moon is always full for these wolves who are hunting. The first time I saw them was on one of those trips we took from my elementary school in Westport, Connecticut. Perhaps I was ten years old and I had been on the big yellow bus on I-95 all morning long packed in with my school mates in their bell bottom jeans and their Adidas sneakers, with our hair slightly too long, hanging in our eyes and over our softly freckled noses. We streamed off that bus and were loosed upon the Dinosaurs and the Reptiles and the Mammals and Eskimos and the Peoples of the Southwest and Peoples of Asia. The totem poles glared at us and the Rocks and Minerals sparkled like the kosher salt on those warm pretzels we bought from the overwhelmed vendor out on the street. The Blue Whale hung over us, suspended by wire swimming through the dimly lit air above us, echoing and echoing and echoing our voices and we were completely agog with the city and this place that seemed to hold the world within its walls.

When I came upon the Wolves, I was alone. And I was transfixed by them—they hypnotized me, and I believe I have remained under their spell ever since. I sat on the floor and let everyone run past me, to more exciting things, like the Elephants and the Ibix and the Carabou and the Lions. I sat there and imagined I was being hunted by these wolves—I was an arctic hare. And once they had eaten me, even my tidy little ears, I imagined that I was one of them chasing the hare. I imagined the sound of the snow as I skirted through it and the quick breaths of the hare as I caught her and broke her little back.

Its comforting somehow to know that thirty-five years later the wolves continue their hunt in the moonlight and so this summer, on my annual trek north, I think I will go sit with them to renew my ancient spell.


Caitlyn Hentenaar said...

This is beautiful.

I have a similar connection, just with the crabs at the Georgia Aquarium.

T.S. Dogfish said...

I remember these wolves! I also remember the racoons who are in a tree - it is night and in the distance a cabin sits at the lake's edge, smoke trailing out of its chimney. I was determined to live in that cabin some day - a real version of it, not the two diminesional facade there in the exhibit.

I'm forty five and not there yet, but Gawd willing . . .