I can hardly believe that I haven’t written a post since Auntie Greta passed. I can say it isn’t for a lack of stories or events, travels, crisis, or celebrations. I hope I will sit down and write some of them out, if not for sharing, at least for myself. It feels too daunting to go back right now and pen them all out, so I will start with a more recent one that is at least already partially written.
This is another Yellowstone National Park story.
This years trip included Beth, one of her daughters Syd and Syd’s 18 month old Rio. I was blessed to be there with three generations for sure, as each age group added a special layer to the entire experience. I am use to traveling with this quick witted bunch who can take any misstep – physical or spoken – and not let it pass without some really good poking fun at it (well, not Rio, but if his purposeful blinks he would send my way were accounted for, then he likely was getting in on the parody as well).
I get together with Beth and the girls fairly regularly and we discuss just about anything and everything . So for this trip, I had an inspiration that I should take a book of poems that we could randomly choose one per day and be part of our discussion(there is alot of car time in Yellowstone in getting from favorite spots to another). I was thinking some Mary Oliver since we were about to be immersed into the grandeur which is Yellowstone. I went to the library and as it was just a week from that location being closed for some renovations, there wasn’t a Mary Oliver book to be found. I went to the section that would normally house them and instead, selected a book of short quotes, poems and thoughts by a person named Atticus, The book was: The Truth About Magic.
Each day, someone would randomly pick a number between 1 and 247 and we would turn to that page and read the excerpt and give our thoughts. Sometimes it was a long discussion, sometimes a nod in agreement or it was a “nope, get another page” since it didn’t resonate with any of us (and why we were getting to a different selection, we would discuss why it fell short of our points of view).
As an example, our first selected page was:
If I’m honest,
very little in life
before or since
to the electric
and wild feeling
of the first time
We all changed the last line to “a boy” and proceeded to agree that while we couldn’t agree with his statement, we have had those kisses that reached your entire being and were pretty great and so, with this selection, we got to hear about the different kissers in our lives.
With this, our week was set up with views of Buffalo, elk, wolves, grizzly bears (first time for me seeing wolves and Grizzly on multiple days), mountain sheep, coyotes, badger (oh, that’s a fun story), eagles and osprey, waterfalls, mountains, valleys, hot springs and the sharing of words from a book and the stories they brought forth from each of us.
One evening, we were headed to the Grand Prismatic. I had the idea last year to view the Grand Prismatic in the evening ,as we had only seen it first thing in the morning on years prior, and I always lamented that with the air so chilled in the morning and the pool always at it’s inherent intense heat, the steam kept me from seeing it with any clarity. We never made it last year, but we agreed to make it happen this year. On our journey there one evening we decided to drive up and check out to see if the swimming hole in Firehole Canyon would also be worth hitting in the evening (we didn’t have our suits with us to give it a try that day, but it was worth scoping it out),
As we headed up the canyon, there was a family or two swimming in the river at the bottom of the canyon. We wondered why they would swim there, when the actual swimming area was so much better, but “to each their own”, we said as we drove on by. When we got to the swimming area farther up the canyon, no one was there swimming! It was around 7pm and the air still quite warm, so we thought that we had hit the jackpot on selecting the best times and place. The road just past where we would normally pull off to park was coned off with large signs to not stop or park anywhere nearby. Turns out an Osprey family had made a nest and was raising their chicks and the park didn’t want them bothered. We totally got it and slowly passed by as we marveled at the osprey in the nest. We couldn’t wait to see them again the next night when we came to swim.
The next day, we began early so as to catch the wolf pack feeding the pups (more stories here, but trying not to make this an entire novel). We were back at camp for a dinner of spaghetti and sausages (yum) to which I had some wine to pair. We headed to the other side of the park from where we were staying and once again, there were people parked at the bottom of the canyon with suits on and heading toward the water.
It is about a 20 minute drive up through the canyon with the swim hole near the top. As we traveled the beautiful turns with the river rushing through the rocks, over cascades, with the water gushing to a tune that made us all feel like we were chosen for this moment, I looked at my still near full cup of wine and stated that once we got to the swim hole where we were sure to be the only ones once more, I would chug my wine and let the cool water be the great equalater. I knew as soon as this new word left my mouth that I was sure to be made fun of in short order. I literally started counting down from 5 in my head. I maybe got to 3 in the countdown before they both bellowed out the word once more and roared in laughter. I rebuked them as I too guffawed, for the many times in just that day alone that they had found so many instances to make fun of me. Sydney said that the beauty of it was that I was the eternal spring of words and events in which to find humor in. She then decided that we would all have to come up with a poem by dinner the next day with the title: “Eternal Spring”
As if the universe wanted to show us all that we are knuckleheads, we arrived at the swim hole only to finally see that it was boarded up and no one was allowed to go down to the area and swim. We weren’t the chosen ones after all and everyone was being denied use due to the close proximity of the Osprey nest. We laughed all the way back to camp at our stupidity and lack of awareness to anything but the beautiful osprey the day before.
The next day, we could each be found throughout parts of the day contemplating our poems due that evening. Beth claimed that she would do a Haiku. Sydney informed me that mine was not allowed to rhyme and after much thought, we decided that Syd’s had to incorporate the word “Equalater” in it since this was our new favorite non word.
I wrote one that felt as if I was combining some of last and this years emotions of the trip during a stretch where we were sitting on the porch of the Roosevelt Lodge and watching butterflies play in the flowers as Rio scampered on the deck in front of us.
Feeling that mine more somber than I thought we were all expecting, I wrote a second and called it my extra credit submission.
Here are the submissions as we shared them at dinner. Starting with my extra credit, I read:
Water rising through the ground
Where is the source? Do we care?
Pure and filtered by nature.
The river is dry, the pond grows stagnant
yet, like good friends,
it continues to give.
Then Beth read her Haiku:
Cackles, guffaws, chuffs
Like a geyser, laughs come like
an Eternal Spring
Following was Syd’s poem: Eternal Spring
Laughs, like water
From an eternal spring,
Begin in my belly
As we start to sing
Or moving slow
There is no stop
To the endless flow
No one is a hater
The great equalater
We howled and voted Syd the winner.
Then I went ahead and read my original composition,
My heart was heavy in the winter of grief
I journeyed to Yellowstone.
Buffalo carried on, rivers flowed,
water fell in trickles, cascades
and roaring over falls.
It was as if it couldn’t wait for the
next spot it might get to.
Natural reminders that life was bigger
than the burrow I had hidden in
and it waited for no one.
Friends and nature warmed my soul
and in that
I found my peace in the eternal spring
flowing from the magnificence
of lasting friendships, open land, wildness
of the animals and
a power within.
The next day was to be a limerick day about our time in the park, but I think I’ll leave that for another day as I’ve already exceeded the limit of what experts say will be read.
side note: If you do go to the Grand Prismatic near sunset, look at your shadow in the steam of the excelsior geyser right before you reach the prismatic. You will see a rainbow around your shadow and while you can’t always see rainbows around other peoples shadows, if you stand with other people, you will she your shadows move even when you are not. It is super cool. Oh, and you really need to head to the overlook to see the prismatic’s full colors as even in the evening, you just don’t get the full view that you see from the overlook.