People who have taken the road less traveled in their careers

  • Shawn Fortney of Fairfield works with Siberian tigers at Six Flags in Vallejo, Thursday, December 27, 2012.
    (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

There are careers people pursue with determination and persistence and for which colleges and training schools confer degrees and certificates.

But some of the most intriguing jobs are those that few have heard about. They are oddball occupations that seem to find certain people or that that some folks just fall into. Or they are jobs that clever people create for themselves out of their singular mixture of skills and interests.

Everyone at various times fields the common query, "What do you do?" But here is a sampling of Sonoma County neighbors working well off the common career grid, whose response is likely to be greeted with, "You do WHAT?!"

For Bernie Krause, the natural noises made by bugs, birds, beasts and even the breeze all add up to the sound of music.

In 1968 and 1969, Krause and another early electronic musician, Paul Beaver, recorded the ground-breaking album "In a Wild Sanctuary." Krause has traveled the world recording natural sounds ever since.

"It was an epiphany for me. I began to record whole habitats. You can hear orchestral patterns that emerge from the natural sounds in each place on Earth," said Krause, 74.

"It can be dangerous. I've been thrown by gorillas and attacked by polar bears. But now I'm doing a lot of work in Sonoma County because the older you get, the harder it is to get in and out of tents," he explained.

Krause continues his work at his home in Glen Ellen, working for bio-acoustics research programs based at Purdue University in Indiana and Michigan State University.

His newest book, "The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places," was published last March.

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