GodsWildMiraclesHigh in the Rocky Mountains while backpacking across Colorado, my grandson Cass Cagle and I grew drowsy in the sunshine and were taking an after-lunch nap in the grass when I felt tugging at my hiking boot. I opened one eye and discovered a chipmunk giving my boot a thorough inspection as though he intended to move in. As a photographer/journalist I’m seldom without a camera, and so managed to capture the image of my little prospective tenant before he scurried away.

I grew up in the Ozark Mountain wilderness, more at home in remote places than in cities or houses. My wife Donna Sue informs friends that I was never meant to live in a house. I’ve been all over the world, from the jungles of the Amazon to the wilds of Africa, from Vietnam and Egypt to Alaska and Canada. I’ve never been lost in the woods—but I sometimes become confused by cities.

Truth is, Donna Sue is right: I’m much more at home in the wilds than in civilization. I never cease being amazed at God’s miracle in creating this planet and its startling variety of life.

While solo-canoeing The Yukon River across Canada’s Yukon Territory, I put in to a riverside clearing to camp just before dusk. A black bear suddenly appeared not twenty feet away; we each held our ground, looking each other over, before the bruin gave a grunt of contempt and ambled off into the forest…

On an excursion kayaking the Inside Passage from Washington up the seacoast of Canada to Alaska, a whale unexpectedly poked its nose out of the water at the bow of my kayak to look me over…

In Africa after climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, I crawled on my belly close to an elephant herd to watch…

I was taking another nap in the sun on the Alaskan tundra and startled awake to find myself surrounded by a curious herd of caribou…

In Egypt, my camel Clyde whom I was riding across the Sahara had a disquieting problem with gas and passed it constantly…

I perched in a tree to watch several deer in a forest opening. A buck strode purposefully over to an attractive doe and kissed her full on the mouth, which I captured on film…

Along the Amazon River of Brazil, I stayed a night in a native village where the children offered to give me a baby monkey. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be allowed to take it out of the country…

I grew up with wild animal pets—raccoons, hawks, crows, dove, opossums, coyotes, squirrels, cottontails, sparrows… My mom would simply smile and shake her head when I came home with another baby.

Everything except snakes. I don’t like snakes.

Charles W. Sasser, freelance photographer/journalist/author has published over 60 books and thousands of magazine articles.