Under a warm Montana sun, with Charles Post
Illustration — Florence Rivest
American photographer, biologist and filmmaker Charles Post uses the power of the image to get people thinking about the environment. He has produced the short documentaries Horse Rich & Dirt Poor, on the impact of drought on wild horses in the American west, and Sky Migrations, on the migration of birds of prey in the U.S. For him, ecosystems are the barometers of our collective well-being.
Charles answered the BESIDE questionnaire from his screened-in porch in southeast Montana.
Your greatest paradox.
I’m an ecologist and I spend my days communicating about science, the importance of living in harmony with nature, and a life anchored to stewardship, and that we are very much part of nature. And yet, I travel by plane, train, and car, which pump massive amounts of greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere and so some of my work contributes to destroying the very things I am trying to save.
Your most cherished childhood memory of being in nature.
It was an October day following one of the rain storms that used to frequent Northern California. The creek running along our back fence had finally lowered, its water was once again clear and its current sluggish. A lone coho salmon swam by. It was headed towards the small dam beneath the bridge upstream. My dad hoisted me, with a bucket in hand, over the chain link fence downstream of the dam. After some effort, I was able to catch the lone salmon, carry it up and over the little dam, and send it on its way. It was then that I realized that even a young boy could change the world of a wild animal.
The knowledge or skill you would most like to acquire.
I aspire to read birdsong while on a walk in the forest and know exactly who it is that is singing. There are many singers, and many venues in which they sing, and so it takes time to learn.
Your “Green Gap.”
I’m a hunter and yet I love wildlife and the species that I pursue more than words can describe.
A book that changed your life.
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
The place where you are happiest.
Something you think should disappear from the planet.
Climate change denial.
A documentary everyone should see.
A key ingredient for building a sustainable future.
A global population with an acute understanding of and appreciation for ecology.
A positive aspect coming out of the current crisis.
Over time, and especially since leaving my career as a field scientist, my life has increasingly required me to travel. Well over two thirds of the year, for many years, I’ve been on the road. I’ve missed being home. I’ve missed having a garden to tend to. I’ve missed the feeling of being rooted to a place. As an ecologist, I thrive from these close connections with nature. While we’ve been in quarantine, I’ve noticed my connection to home, and my sense of place, blooming in so many wonderful ways.
And to conclude, do you drink enough water?
Yes! With room for improvement. Drinking water is truly a staple most hours, and I owe this awareness to my wife, Rachel Pohl, who is constantly chugging water. (Thanks, Rachel!)