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Podcast: The Call of the Wild with exotic animal handler, Niki Cesar Tracchia

“All good things are wild & free”
-Henry David Thoreau

Niki tells her story about traveling across the landscapes of nature– as avid hiker/outdoor enthusiast, wolf-advocate (yes, they need our help!), Bikram yogi, and exotic animal handler. After a not-so-great, though sadly typical, experience with public high “schooling,” Niki blossomed into an avid learner and teacher after she answered what she terms her “Call of the Wild.”

Niki is a wonderful and interesting example of the various forms of learning and teaching that happen outside the narrow academic realm of school.

Click here to listen…

A few quotes from our conversation:

“When life is trying to tell you something, when the some ‘thing’ keeps calling you back, you should probably listen.”

“I learned not to have expectations… or believe in limits about what I could do or couldn’t do.”

“I just knew I was in the right place. I just knew– this is it. This is my life. This is me.”

“So many doors opened for me.”

“I am so grateful….I love my life. I wouldn’t change anything.”

I really hope you enjoy listening to Niki about her sense of self-awareness; interconnectedness; the wild; listening; and openness to what life brings. Her  enthusiasm for authentic forms of learning and teaching are contagious!



For more information:

Curious Creatures @ 
​The New England original
Interactive LIVE ANIMAL Programs & Parties
Established by Dean Kosch in 1987

Wolf Hollow @
114 Essex Road
Ipswich, MA 01938
Tel: (978) 356-0216

Bikram Yoga 
Find a studio location anywhere in the world.


Creative Commons License for “Political Lunatics” by Earthling (intro and outro music)
“Political Lunatics” by Earthling

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Qs & Qs: Henry David Thoreau


“I found thus that I had been a rich man without any damage to my poverty. But I retained the landscape, and I have since annually carried off what is yielded without a wheel-barrow.”

— Henry David Thoreau

I thought it appropriate to begin my first “Quotes & Questions” blog post exploring a few words about the landscape from Henry David Thoreau.

In these two lines from Walden, Thoreau defines what it means to be a “rich man” by implying that financial concerns, property-ownership, and money have nothing whatsoever to do with being “rich.”  Cliche, right? Yeah, yeah. We know– money does not equal happiness, blah, blah, blah.

But, Thoreau also is interested in preventing any “damage” to his “poverty,” as if poverty were a good thing; and it is, clearly, important to him to protect it. Why? What does he mean by poverty? Why protect it from damage?

In this early part of the chapter, “Where I Lived and What I Lived For,” these particular words about being a rich man, poverty, and the landscape follow a description of how he lost his claim on a piece of farmland that he had hoped to own, when the deal was rescinded. He was left with the original ten cents and packet of seeds he began with, and he seemed pretty stoked about that. I believe that, in Thoreau’s estimation, he still won by losing. Unfazed by and completely accepting of his misfortune, he allowed the farmer to not only keep his land but the ten dollars he had paid him for it.

Although he may have lost his original purchase, he insists that he “retained the landscape” which profited him in other ways. What was it that he “yielded without a wheel-barrow?”

Do you “profit” from the natural landscape that surrounds you, as Thoreau was able to?

What might one annually carry off the landscape (without a wheel barrow)?

Are you “the monarch of all that [you] survey” as Thoreau then metaphorically claims in the very next lines?

How do you see people “damage” their “poverty” in contemporary life?

Can we afford to live as Thoreau lived, without “damage” to one’s poverty? If so, what does this kind of lifestyle look like today?

Do you know anyone/people who live according to Thoreau’s definitions of wealth and poverty?

Do you know anyone who profits, in the same way Thoreau suggests he was able to, from the natural landscape?

How much time do you spend considering the value of the natural landscape or the landscapes of your life?