The man in the clearing, thin silver hair lit from behind, long blue work shirt over pink, is lean, of modest height, and steady as a post. The dog is more enthusiastic, a superior hillbilly poodle. It bounds forward to lick the passenger window, avid for society. As the man is not: he can take it when it comes, assess a situation, shape unshapely events to a predetermined programme and deliver what’s required, before returning to his proper business, a measured life in a portion of territory he has made his own.
The dog is called Emi. Beyond that pointy elongation of nose, and the wet welcome, this promiscuously affectionate, warm-breathed female is a canine in sheep’s clothing: a tumbling knotted rug of a thing. Emi has a supporting role in The Practice of the Wild, a documentary film featuring her human companion and the writer Jim Harrison, recently shot at San Simeon, on Hearst property; a leisurely senior citizen conversation on wilderness, Native American myths, the Beat Generation, mortality and memory. ‘Nature is not a place to visit,’ the man says, ‘it is home.’
He is Gary Snyder, poet, bioregionalist, teacher.