"The news can be depressing, but what keeps me feeling positive is the fact that birding and natural history pursuits give me a chance to interact with such outstanding young people. Kimberly and I (and our adventurous niece and nephew, Macy and Drew) just spent the last couple of days with our friend Gabriel Mapel, who, at the age of 17, already has phenomenal knowledge of the behavior of Black Bears. It was almost a supernatural experience to watch several bears with him and to hear his quiet commentary -- he knows these animals as individuals, and his understanding of the species is profound. We were also blessed to spend time with his parents, Mary Ivits Mapel and Daniel Mapel, who have supported Gabriel's research and who also have amazing knowledge of the bears and other wildlife. Gabriel and Mary and Daniel were also so kind and considerate to young Macy and Drew. This is the kind of experience that gives me faith in the potential goodness of humanity, despite what the daily headlines might suggest."
from my mama, Mary Mapel
"I sit quietly this morning reflecting on the past couple of days and the blessed time we had sharing our love for bears and wildlife with naturalists and authors Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman, and Macy and Drew, their niece and nephew.
When i was pregnant with Gabriel i used to love walking in the woods, quietly holding my belly and talking to my baby, and sharing my excitement about showing our beautiful wild world to him. The Earth has always been my home, the solitude of the woods, the ancient wisdom of the Redwoods, the calling of the mountains, the majesty of the oceanside, each in their own way healing, and giving me strength as i journey my way through life.
From his early days, Daniel and I would walk these special places with Gabriel and we have watched his wonder and curiosity about the stars, birds, deer, wolves, bears and all of wildlife blossom into this profound connection to nature that moves me so deeply and leaves me in awe as i witness them literally become friends, intimately knowing these wild ones as individual beings, each with a story of their own.
I feel such pride in my heart as I watch him share that connection with others, and see how his passion has burned a commitment in his heart to do all he can to protect and keep this planet safe for the four legged and winged ones that are family.
So these last few days it was nothing short of remarkable to see Gabriel walking in the woods with Kenn and Kim and being their guide as he shared his passion and knowledge of bears. I have such respect for Kenn and Kim for not only their vast knowledge of so many different aspects of nature, but also their passionate commitment to conservation and preservation of our natural world for future generations. So to see Gabriel walking alongside them as a peer, sharing and learning from each other, was truly remarkable. It leaves me feeling so very grateful and blessed to know that Gabriel has mentors who are there to support him in sharing his passion, and that his future is an ongoing mystery, unfolding in perfect time.
Kenn and Kim, thank you so much for sharing this sacred time with my boy in his woods, as well as sharing your time with Daniel and myself. I love the simple ease with which we shared our time, and treasure that our lives are blessed with your friendship. Have a safe journey home."