Humanity's relationship with nature is a major theme in the story. Each of the essays in this collection explores and documents different ways in which humanity, as individuals and as a community, interacts with nature. The author writes about interactions based on science ("The Lives of Seals"), respectful exploration and contemplation ("Gone Back into the Earth"), and domination and control ("The Bull Rider"). On occasion he writes of how interactions defined by each of these perspectives sometimes come into conflict with one another ("A Presentation of Whales"). He also writes about interactions in the past ("Searching for Ancestors" and others) and the present ("Yukon Charley ..." and others), finding parallels across history in how human beings have behaved with respect and/or a determination to exploit.