Though he sometimes tries, it’s hard for a passionate intellectual like Paul McFarland to completely disappear behind his red work apron.
The Sheet caught up with McFarland, former director of Friends of the Inyo and naturalist extraordinaire, for a bike ride in Lee Vining Canyon on Monday to learn more about his philosophy and life experience.
As we sat down to talk on the shore of Lee Vining Creek, he told me about some of his first experiences in nature and how he came to be a naturalist.
Paul was born into a Catholic family in Thousand Oaks (“the Spanish tile wonderland of California” he jokes), went to Catholic school, and came very close to becoming a priest. However, he began to notice what he saw as hypocrisies within organized religion, and turned towards nature. “I realized that my church was outside – anywhere outdoors,” he says. “When I was in nature, because I was learning the story of trees and rocks, how they came to be, I felt I was surrounded by friends.”