The Last Unicorn: Rare Opportunity meets up with Rare Species


cover-thewalk-thumb“A SPECIES OF HOPE resides in the possibility of seeing one thing, one phenomenon or essence, so clearly and fully that the light of its understanding illuminates the rest of life. Almost any object of contemplation can be the vehicle for such discovery. When I study the surface of the pine desk where I am writing and admire the faint green tint of the stain that penetrates the wood and the lines of darker grain that resist the stain, it takes no leap of imagination to reflect that each line of grain marks a year of growth and to be reminded that this wood was once the flesh of a living tree. Perhaps it stood within a forest on a western mountainside, one resembling the forest that enfolds the valley where this desk occupies the corner of a cabin, a forest that clothed itself in a green of which the stain of the desk is the merest echo, a forest that answered the wind with its own individual sound, singing or groaning when the wind tore through it.   (-William deBuys, The Walk, Trinity University Press.)

I have just finished up a book in collaboration with Parker J Palmer: Here, Take This Gift  where I refer to my daily walks and where contemplation is central to living a life from the inside-out (as Parker and I encourage). William deBuys’, The Walk is an invitation to experience a contemplative life among all our uncertainty and changes. As I have shared in previous blogs, this time of my life is full of beauty, loss and uncertainty. The Walk has become a companion. The Walk also invites us to contemplate our experiences and place in nature through our writing: “The view from the cabin and its writing desk has the power to draw one’s imagination to the limits of the cosmos.”   In today’s blog, I invite you my readers to a rare opportunity to meet up with William deBuys, environmental writer and advocate.

“On reflection, as I write this, I realize that this essay is one of those unexpected, storm-borne things, and the storm that produced it is still blowing within me.” (William deBuys, The Walk)

I came upon William deBuys and local writer and wildlife biologist William Robichaud‘s work while stumbling about the internet doing research on endangered species for my novel: SHIFT. The last unicorn (saolas), poachers, collectors of exotic and endangered species are characters and subjects covered in my novel. I am excited to meet William deBuys in person, — and catch the sighting of such a rare species (this April). Hope to see you there!

51TJq8952sL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“But of all the ways in which that mass extinction is being pushed forward, none is more straightforwardly obvious than the quite literal slaughter that constitutes the illegal animal trade. In recent years, environmentalist and TomDispatch regular William deBuys set out to see the results of that aspect of mass extinction for himself, and what a grisly spectacle it proved to be.  In the process, he penetrated deep into the jungles of Laos in search of a deer-like creature you’ve undoubtedly never heard of that may — or may not — still exist. It was an adventure of the first order, which deBuys depicts in his remarkable new book, The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Rarest Creatures.”  (-Tom Engelhardt,  TomDispatch)

In early April, environmental writer William deBuys will leave his ranch and writing desk on the edge of the Carson National Forest in New Mexico to visit the Madison area.  He’ll give talks on his recent book about his and William Robichaud’s work to save the saola from extinction in Vietnam and Laos, The Last Unicorn – one talk in Madison and one talk in Spring Green. (I will be attending the Spring Green one.)

Madison: Thursday, Apri 6, 6:00 PM, Room of One’s Own bookstore, 315 West Gorham St.

Spring Green: Friday, April 7, 7:00 PM, Arcadia Books.




DeBuys is not only a passionate advocate for our planet, he’s a lyrical writer.  One of his earlier works (River of Traps) was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer for non-fiction.  And both the Christian Science Monitor and Men’s Journal put The Last Unicorn in their top-ten nonfiction books of 2015. You can find regular essays by William at TOMDISPATCH. 




The Last Unicorn



Is it enough to know

He is out there?


Is it enough to

get a glimpse

of him

as he runs into the wild,

disappearing from view?


Is it enough to wait

for him to visit

your spot in the woods,

watching him as he eats?


Is it enough to write down a few notes

perhaps take a picture,

to place on your altar?


Is it enough to know

he might share the woods

with you

if you could give up the shelter

of your familiar?


Is it enough to know

He wonders too

about you


Do you really have to

hunt him down

to hang his head

on your wall?            – The Saola, 9/15/2016, JTJIMG_6352 

4 thoughts on “The Last Unicorn: Rare Opportunity meets up with Rare Species

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *