THE GHOST WALKER by R. D. Lawrence


Email this review


Canadian nature observer Lawrence's latest first-person chronicle deals with the better part of a year (October 1st to mid-July) that he spent studying a male puma, based in a shack he built in the British Columbia wilderness. As usual, the book is more an account of his experiences than a report on the animal, which is also known as mountain lion, cougar, and panther. Gunless, Lawrence spends a good deal of time exploring the puma's range and all its life forms. On one occasion he is charged but not attacked by a shrieking female puma. He fends her off with flares and later decides that he had disturbed the puma in heat and that her charge was a ""bluff,"" meant only to intimidate. On Christmas day he will witness the two lions in caterwauling courtship; and in spring, seeking the den in the female's adjacent territory, he will see her educating her three kittens--who, he says, just have to be called ""cute"" despite his distaste for that word. But his real fix is on the male, whom Lawrence names ""Ghost Walker"" after their first near encounter: waiting near a recent kill, where he has strewn his used underwear so the lion will grow accustomed to his scent, Lawrence falls asleep and thus misses the animal's visit. Later, though, in patient proximity, he establishes a relationship of ""mutual trust,"" is thrilled by the animal's response and by what he regards as the ESP between them (he had experienced a similar deep rapport with a puma in an English zoo), and finally feels ""spiritually united"" when the Ghost allows him to sit nearby while the animal feeds on a kill. Besides affording such moments, and some less emphasized scientific conclusions (territorial markings, Lawrence believes, are less a warning to trespassers than an invitation to females), Lawrence found that the experience developed his own scenting ability and sharpened all his senses. It's those extra senses, though, that are most prized, and through which he takes readers ""backward in time"" to a real or idealized, but always impressive, sense of natural unity.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1983
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston