A Montanan You Should Know: GARY FERGUSON, Wilderness Author

Gary Ferguson
Photo: Gary Ferguson

Gary Ferguson is the author of 26 books on science and nature. His 2014 work The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness was chosen as “Nature Book of the Year” by the prestigious Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute. He continues to be a frequent contributor to a variety of publications, including Vanity Fair, Orion and the Los Angeles Times. Gary’s latest book is The Eight Master Lessons of Nature, by Dutton Books. He recently joined his wife, social psychologist Mary M. Clare, in creating “Full Ecology”—a program designed to help break down the walls between the human psyche and the natural world. Ferguson has been a Seigle Scholar at Washington University, St. Louis as well as the William Kittredge Distinguished Writer at the University of Montana.

“After all these years I still can’t… believe how much beauty there is in the world.” 

Gary Ferguson

You will always get my attention if you want to discuss… any foray you’ve ever made into wild places.  

My first encounter with wildlife was… when my parents introduced me to my older brother. 

On a good day in Montana you will probably find me… grateful as a bear on a stinky carcass to call this place home. 

If I wasn’t a writer and public speaker I would probably be… in a rock and roll band.

Even my best friends don’t know that I… purr like a well-fed cat when I drink Lagavulin. 

If you have time I would love to tell you about… how I came to go skinny dipping in the Arctic Sound. 

If I had the power to plant one idea in every human head it would be… that all life on planet Earth, including humans, rests entirely on a vast web of relationships. 

The book I have yet to write will be about… the five years I spent hopping trains. 

The first thing I want to know about you is… what brings you joy.

If you want to know my worsthabit it is undoubtedly… compulsively checking my weather app (and then, stupidly, believing yet again what it says). 

The most heartbreaking episode in my life occurred… when my first wife, Jane, died in a canoeing accident in northern Ontario. 

The power of wilderness is the power… to not only move humans off center stage, out to the edges, but at the same time make us really happy to be there.

Funny you never asked, but yes, I do… think sloths are supremely cool.

It may not surprise you to find out that my favorite wildlife species… is the moose.

I like to think that things would be a lot better if everyone would just… accidently run over their cell phones.

When I get really lazy you will find me… lying face up in some mountain meadow, watching clouds turn into giant birds or fish or dragons. 

What will you discover in the wilderness? Well, it’s obvious. You will always find… beauty, community, and mystery.

Optimism is something that I… seek out in other people, knowing it to be highly contagious.

Now that I’ve finished this interview I think I’ll… put on some Paul Butterfield music, pour an IPA, and play my blues harps.

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caren low (not verified) , Mon, 11/30/2020 - 14:41
Thanks, so much I’m a retired rural carrier, outfitter mom, backcountry cook, and run an air bnb in Lincoln, mt.
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