In 1955, five men in their early twenties set off with 36-year-old Art Moffat on a canoe trip through Canada's arctic. The group was unprepared for the cold. They ran out of food and winter closed in. Then the group inadvertently went over a waterfall and the leader. Art Moffat died of hypothermia. One of the young men on the trip, George Grinnell, has worked on his account of the journey for fifty years. It is a powerful book of survival and awakening - a physical and spiritual odyssey. A Death on the Barrens, was originally published in 1996. This revised Heron Dance Press edition contains Roderick MacIver watercolors.
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A Letter to Amazon Readers from George Grinnell
Dear Amazon.com readers,
At the beginning of the trip that I describe in Death on the Barrens, I had said to myself, "If things get rough, at least I will not be the first to die." I had just been discharged from the Army and was in better physical condition than the others, but, by the end of the trip I was thinking very different thoughts: "I hope I will not be the last to die." By the end of the trip, I took pride not in my own strength, for it was laughable compared to the power of the wind that had ripped the tent I was sleeping in to shreds, or the power of the cataracts which had flipped our canoes as if they were toys, or of the cold which had killed Art--by the end of the trip, I took pride only in what I could do for others because I did not want to be the last to die. I was scared of dying alone.
Although I was terrified of dying, there were moments when I felt so at peace that I just wanted to remain in the arctic forever. Having my terror transformed by beauty into awe was like receiving, what mystics call, the ecstasy of the grace of God. It is such a wonderful feeling--a mixture of awe, peace, and love--that, if I could, I would share it.
George James Grinnell
Q: Recalling the hardships of the catastrophic canoe voyage of 1955 must be difficult and painful, at times. What made you decide to write Death on the Barrens?
A: I was telling the story to some friends at dinner one night, fifty years ago, and one of them, Professor Ed Chalfant said: "Write the book." The next day he gave me his typewriter. I have been typing ever since trying to convey what perhaps cannot be conveyed: the transformation of terror into awe.
Q: Something that makes your book so wonderful is that you offer philosophical insight into the Barrens expedition, and reflections on your life since. What do you want readers to take away from reading the book?
A: I would like readers to take away the idea that awe transforms vanity into love, and love is the source of the inner peace which we all desire.
Q: Through your experiences and through the writing of this book, what have you learned about human nature that isn't common knowledge?
A: I’ve learned that it is necessary to empty oneself if one wants to receive the gift of awe, love, and peace, which is the gift of the wilderness to troubled souls.
George Grinnell taught the history of science and intellectual history at McMaster University in Ontario from 1967 to 1991. He currently teaches meditation classes and lives in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Artist Roderick MacIver is the founder of Heron Dance, a nonprofit organization that celebrates the human connection to nature through art and words.
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Descrizione libro Heron Dance Press, 2005. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0975564978