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Two paths diverged in a wood ... and we got lost

From the beginning, when I had contacted Bernd Heinrich and made arrangements to visit him in Maine, I had a feeling that getting to him would be a challenge.

This became ever clearer as we walked on a trail one night in the pitch dark, cutting through the woods where I knew, somewhere, we would find Dr. Heinrich's cabin.

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We had planned to arrive before dark, but a wrong turn translated into a two-hour delay and the moon, almost full, was our only beacon. Determined to find Heinrich, I let my feet feel the way along the path, slipping into ditches and over emerging rocks covered in moss and lichens.

He had said a quarter of a mile from the main road where we left our car, but he didn't say in which direction. But soon, it slowly emerged through the moonlit mist - Heinrich's Cimmerian log cabin, unlit inside, camouflaged for the night.

"Hello?" I cried.

We wondered if anyone was inside. Had he forgotten we were coming?

"Hello?" I shouted, louder this time, and a window at the top of the cabin cracked open. "Hello!" a man shouted back, leaning out. It was Heinrich, as elusive as the ravens he closely studies. "Come on in!"

As we walked in, he silently welcomed us with an incredulous look. "You found your way up the path in the darkness," he said as he lit two candles and stuck them onto a wooden table. "I guess I tend to give purposefully vague directions," he admitted.

The spruce and fir cabin, built entirely by Heinrich, has no electricity or running water.

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This secluded part of the western Maine woods has been the focal point for much of his research and the setting for most of his books. As inconspicuously as possible, he disappears into the woods for countless hours of observation in rain, snow, or sunshine. It is here that, for the past 15 years, Heinrich says he has "lived and breathed ravens" and their surroundings.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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