In the High Peaks

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Farewell, Anne LaBastille

The writer Anne LaBastille died in early July and I didn't know anything about it until yesterday. Hers was a passing I would have liked to have known about on the day it happened. She was an ardent wilderness preservationist, an international conservationist and environmentalist, and a prolific writer. She was only 75 and, as I learned yesterday, had Alzheimer's disease.

I read her most well-known book, Woodswoman, shortly after Ken and I moved to the Adirondack wilderness, back in 2006. (We arrived in December 2005.) At that time I was deep, deep in the heady throes of my love affair with this wild land. I'm very nostalgic about that time in my life and, consequently, about Woodswoman.

In that incomparable book, LaBastille recounts her wilderness journey, to build a cabin and be self-sufficient living on an Adirondack lake; far, far from any village, town, or other dwellings. Woodswoman is the story of this adventure and it fed my soul, largely because she did something that was the stuff of my fantasies, but which I knew full well I could never do. No roads (she travelled by boat). No electricity. No plumbing (of course). I didn't realize until I read LaBastille's obituary that she had a Ph.D. from Cornell University in wildlife biology, which she was awarded in 1969. That field was a man's world back then.

LaBastille made enormous contributions to world wildlife and conservation causes, as well as a monumental contribution to the preservation of the Adirondack State Park, all 6 million acres of it.

The New York Times published an extraordinary obituary.
Go in peace, Anne. Others are carrying your flame.

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