Thursday, July 10

The Wind and the Caribou

Last night, I saw an episode of Natural World about the great caribou migration. Each spring, the caribou trek 3,000 miles from their winter calving grounds through upper Canada to reach their summer homes. The episode was about not only their migration, but also the wolves that live in the region, and their dependency on the caribou for survival.

The caribou gather in droves during their migration, merging herds to reach a population in the thousands. The sight is quite beautiful. The wolves also give birth at this time of year. Mostly, the mother must stay with the pups to protect them. The father of the pack must be the bread-winner and bring back food for the mother and pups. And by way food, all the wolves have are caribou. However, since the newborn pups are still too small to travel, the wolf packs are rooted to their respective birthing territories. Though the adult wolves can survive weeks without food, the pups lack fat and will die of starvation shortly after their mother stops lactating if they are not fed meat. Therefore, it is up to the father's to venture out and intercept the caribou migratory herd.

The problem is, the caribou's migration route doesn't always pass near the wolf pack's homes. The caribou are constantly being pestered by mosquitoes. And not just a few. We're talking billions of mosquitoes harassing thousands of caribou, constantly. For us, with safe, walled-in structures, mosquitoes are an annoyance. For the caribou, however, who are always on the move and who have only meager food available, blood loss from sucking mosquitoes is a deathly problem. So bothered are they by the swarms of mosquitoes, the caribou dictate their walking direction by the direction of the winds. The caribou will walk into the wind to keep the mosquitoes away. Since wind is an ever-changing element, the caribou's migration route shifts each year with it.

One wolf traveled 400 miles in 10 days searching for caribou, only to return to his den with nothing. The winds chose the route of the caribou, and, by chance, the route passed too far from this wolves den.

Thus, each migration season, the wind decides the fate of two survivalist creatures: the packs of wolves littered across the tundra, and the caribou trekking to their homes each migration season. The wolves need favorable wind for the caribou to pass near by, so they may hunt the caribou and feed their pups. On the other hand, if the wind does pass near wolf dens, some caribou will likely lose their lives.During the TV program, the narrator quoted an Inuit saying: "Who knows the way of the wind or the caribou?" He is talking about is chance and dependency.

The wind is a random, outside element that dictates the actions and favor of two players. Do what they may, both players are certain whims of lady wind. However, the wind does not completely determine the win or loss of either player. Either player may act how he or she pleases, and, ultimately, it is how the players act that will determine their fates. The players may strategize, taking advantage of the winds favor or else fighting its contempt. Both player are equal in terms of potential, but the outside element, the wind, is what tests their skill. The wind is a wrench, a challenge to the players' skills. Come wind or hell, the more skillful player can prevail.

Also, the wind is a natural element. We sometimes have the tendency to want to control each minute detail of our games. This isn't natural. The world is in constant motion, nothing is static. Rules do exist: gravity, light. But it is the natural element that brings our world to life: the wind or the rain. We need to ease our grasp. Let our games breathe. Make some rules, not too complex, mind you, but rules that will both benefit and challenge our inhabitants, make them want to stay around for awhile and see what life has to offer. Then let's blow some wind and see which way the caribou walk.

source: and
image from thelon.

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