As the night wore on we talked about various things until, at one point, I asked, “Why grizzlies?”
He explained that after returning from the war he began doing a lot of camping in wild places. One of those places was the backcountry of Yellowstone and it was there that he started finding himself in the company of bears. During one of his very first encounters he had been soaking in a thermal pool when he was startled by a sow and her cub. The bear had treed him and Peacock had ended up naked and shivering up in the tree for over an hour.
Gradually, grizzlies became not the natural byproduct of his trips into the backcountry but the goal. Though he didn’t like the word, it was hard to say there wasn’t a spiritual aspect to his trips into grizzly country. He came to believe that many of our basic religious archetypes grew out of observing bears. After all, what better animal to embody resurrection, the death of a winter’s hibernation followed by the rebirth of spring’s emergence from the den?
Peacock loved guns and owned many but he refused to bring them along when he knew he would encounter the bears.
“That would defeat the purpose,” he said.