North of Summer

Words by Julia Kidder / Photography by Alana Paterson

For children of the wet wooded veil of the Pacific Northwest, animals modestly decorate titanic natural backdrops and place themselves in the center of our view of the world. Like brazen sheep on high sub alpine meadows, or back porch reserve dogs, like old goats in deep gorges and the bachelor bulls of Fraser Valley pastures, like the rapacious diving hawks circling sockeye tide pool cups or the swooping gangly herons of our lonely coasts; these beasts make up our extended family whether we choose to have them at, or on our dinner table or not.

Those of us who grow up with or around animals just know the value of having strange sentient beings around us. They are less ridiculous than we are, even if they drool and screech and have sex unpleasantly and trip enthusiastically over half devoured pieces of plywood or headless plastic rubber duckies. They forage and mate and play within the realistic parameters of survival and force us to reflect on the fact that we are really just distracted and over-accessorized bipedal dolts. In this misguided age even turkeys may have something to teach us.

Portraits of animals interacting with their households and the world outside them show no ego, only stoicism in basic acts. Just like the un-domestic beasts found roaming coasts and rocky headlands or the ones parading near the low roaring rivers carved by Ice Age glaciers, the animals we keep close are here to remind us of the things we forget to see in nature’s effortless yet industrious design. This is the lesson we desperately need to learn before we are cordially disinvited from Mother Nature’s dinner party, or made a meal of ourselves.