Biff wades in Bluegill Lake in 1990.
Posted by David McGrath | Guest column
Americans celebrate Independence Day because freedom is more important than food and water to make us feel alive.
And the physical, sensual, and emotional meaning of freedom has never been more dramatically dramatized than in the 1966 award-winning film Born Free.
The film is based on the true story of Joy Adamson (played by Virginia McKenna), wife of the African gamekeeper George Adamson (Bill Travers), who adopts an orphaned lion cub she calls Elsa. As Elsa grows into a 300-pound adult and the dangers of keeping her become apparent, Adamson can’t stand the idea of her being locked up in a zoo and decides to bring her back to the wild.
The rest of the film records the risks, difficulties, and apparent impossibility of teaching the lioness to survive on her own in the jungle. But perfect, selfless love enables Adamson to drive away her beloved Elsa in a heartbreaking scene so she can spend her days in pure freedom.
The need for freedom for ourselves and those we love is a basic human need, something I felt in my stomach after moving to the Northwoods.
Our “Africa” was one and a half million hectares of forest and water in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin and my family’s base camp, an 800 square meter hut that we had built on little Bluegill Lake.
No lions or elephants, but a paradise of wooded ridges, valleys and streams, dense with red and white pines, aspens and balsam, free from asphalt, fences and other human constraints and full of wild animals, including wolves, elk and deer.