I first heard of Margaret Murie, affectionately known as "Mardie", from being a fan of John Denver. During "The Wildlife Concert", he introduced a song he had written ("A Song for All Lovers") for her by telling a bit about her. Mardie and her husband Olaus had been amongst the first to espouse the naturalist/environmental causes of the sixties -- they just did it earlier, before it was "cool."
The Muries explored Alaska, studying the wildlife, the plants, the layout of the topography, and not only fell in love there but raised children there. They eventually made their way into the "Lower 48", settling into Jackson Hole, WY, where they founded The Wilderness Society, a major mover and shaker in the environmental movement. And when Olaus passed from this life, Mardie fought, with others, to get ANWR passed -- the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge act that saved a great portion of the wildness of Alaska for the animals and plants that call it home. And then, she began to tell her story.
"Two in the Far North" is one of the most personal books that Mardie wrote, telling about her life with Olaus in the great white north state. It is, in turn, romantic and practical in the telling. She relates her love for the wilderness of the state by relating her love for her husband. And vice versa, many times. The relating of how they lived, how they explored, and how they loved is very intimate but so descriptive that Alaska becomes a lover in her amazing story.
We see the beauty of the long nights and the blinding snow through her. We learn about the migrations of the animals and how they survive in the harsh conditions of winter, how they roam and dance in the joys of the spring and summer. Her recounting of that time is so vivid that each story is felt deep in the reading.
An incredible read, the book is insightful and tender, and a true glimpse into Alaska by one who knew it so intimately. And it speaks volumes about the brave woman that called it home. I recommend "Two in the Far North" to anyone who wants to learn about the environmental movement in Alaska and a wonderful lady who served, and still serves, as an inspiration to us all.
You can find copies of "Two in the Far North" by Margaret Murie through all online booksellers, as well as locally from Joseph-Beth Booksellers in the Lexington Green Mall on Nicholasville Road or Barnes & Noble in the Hamburg Pavilion Shopping Center at Man o' War Blvd and Sir Barton Way.
Lexington, have you ever traveled to Alaska? Are you familiar with Mardie and Olaus Murie? Give me your thoughts on the book in the comments. I'd love to know.
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