Living in wilderness among large predators and prey—grizzly bears, pumas, wolves, and elk—can give rise to some interesting stories. At a free talk May 7 at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, author Leslie Patten shares her own wilderness experiences in The Wild Excellence: Notes from Untamed America. She signs copies of her book of the same name following the 12:15 p.m. presentation.
The talk takes place in the Coe Auditorium and is part of the Center’s Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition series. Her book and talk, based on her experiences since moving to the Yellowstone region from California, explore Patten’s journey from an initial tentativeness in the wilderness to feeling at ease with the rhythms of nature. This transition, Patten discovered, “is a form of contemplation and simultaneously a healing event.”
“I learned what happens when you purchase a summer cabin that needs a lot of work,” says Patten. With town an hour away beyond an 8,800-foot mountain pass, her winter neighbors include several wolf packs and a couple thousand elk. Among Patten’s adventures so far are burst plumbing in January and grizzlies frequenting her chokecherries. The healing she experienced, “is dependent on large tracts of wilderness along with its full suite of wildlife.” The process, she adds, “illuminates the sacredness of wild lands and their necessity for the human spirit.”
Patten has worked with land throughout her life and is a professional landscape designer. The Garden Conservancy has featured her gardens, which have also been shown on numerous Art Club tours. While living in the Bay Area of California she worked with schoolchildren as they explored the unique ecology of the coastal redwood forests of Muir Woods National Monument, and the tide pools of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
In addition to The Wild Excellence, Patten has written BioCircuits: Amazing New Tools for Energy Health as well as three books on gardening. She writes an online blog journal about wildlife issues in the Greater Yellowstone. With her interest in wildlife, she has volunteered on spotted owl and grizzly bear studies, worked with the Gloria Climate Change Project in the Beartooth Mountains, prepared specimens in the Draper Museum’s lab, and worked with tracking clubs.
For more information on Lunchtime Expeditions and other natural science programming, visit centerofthewest.org/explore/greater-yellowstone-natural-history.
Lunchtime Expeditions are supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch. The June 4 program features Dr. Ingrid “Indy” Burke. For the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s full calendar of events, visit centerofthewest.org/calendar.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.