Tied to Nature Writings

Natures Soul

The soul of a man is a master piece, full of knowledge, experience, and desire, but it is not the only thing with a soul. The soul that I speak of is more than that of the heart of man or the soul that might be mentioned from behind a pulpit early on a Sunday morning. I am talking about what makes a man return to painting after years of other obligations, or what makes the wind tease the grass as it blows through the valley day after day and year after year, or what makes the moon listen to the cry of the wolf throughout the dark night.
Year after year I am pulled back to Yellowstone from a intangible force like that, that points a compass north. Every year as the snow fades away and the migration whistles over head I am pulled away first in my thoughts and then in my dreams until the day comes that my soul is awakened from it’s slumber and my wings spread and carry me away into my dream.  But alas, the dream soon fades away as gravity pulls me back to earth and I again wait for my wings to spread and carry me away.
Three months a go I came to Yellowstone as the seasons changed and my wings spread, this was nothing new it had happened before but this time it would be different. I do not know exactly what was different but it helped make the difference. The soul of a man may seem simple to understand, but it is something my wife will never understand. Like the Bighorns on a cliff, there are plenty of meadows to graze and valleys to live in so why do they choose to spend their time atop the mountains and on the edge of cliffs. For the same reason I want to, why limit your gaze to the grandeur in front of you and watch the birds soar from below when you can stand upon the majesty of the mountains, fly with birds, and see into the future. As I wandered the park on that trip I knew that Yellowstone is where I wanted to be. It has now been almost two months from the time that I moved my family into an apartment in the shadow of Electric Peak in the small community of Gardiner Montana. From the time that I first got here I have been entertained by ants, memorized by bears, and frightened by tourists and can now see that this land has it’s own soul.
Almost ten years ago when I was first put into a trance by Yellowstone National Park I came to seek after wolves and bears. I did not know or care about the splendor that surrounded me, the thermal features looked cool but smelt bad, Bison and Elk were a thing of the past, and if you have seen one Lodge Pole Pine you have seen every tree in Yellowstone. I came back year after year looking for the same thing sometimes I got lucky and sometimes I wasted my time. As I came each time I noticed that the people that I talked to were struck by Yellowstone the same way that I was, some had different passions or their soul desired other things but Yellowstone is what brought them here. How could Yellowstone have such a pull on so many people?

The Soul

I have changed and I think it is Yellowstone that has changed me, there is so much more to Yellowstone than that of wolves and bears. Over the last few weeks I have really started to recognize this, as I sat waiting to see a wolf pup emerge from it’s den I listened as the gossip of the frogs pulled me into their conversation and I started to realize that the wolves and bears were just part of Yellowstone’s soul that there was so much more, and if I listened and watched I could be filled with knowledge, experience, and a greater desire to be part of Yellowstone and what it has to offer. From the time that I listened to the gossip of the frogs my ears have been freed and my eyes open to the world around me. Understanding that Yellowstone like everything else in this world whether it is an individual, a family, a business or another national park has  a soul, a driving power or influence that molds it, has helped me and will help me go beyond sitting in the valley looking up at the peaks.

Time For You To Experience This!

How can you use words for what you soul captures in a moment of time? Sometimes the flow of your pen across a blank page does not to be seem sufficient to persuade your memory of that moment in time. But on the other hand what is an image taken through the reflection of a lens but a mere flash of time or how do you record the breeze sweep across your face as it cools the burn of the sun. I guess with words you can bring your imagination and the imagination of others to life as you paint a picture across their soul as real as the wind you felt across your face the first time you were set a fire by the beauty of what you saw and felt.

What do you see?

Now imagine to yourself the scene that lays before my eyes as you sit back on the hard log that I now sit on and drift away in to the Lamar Valley. Do you feel every grain of warm sand as it passes through your toes as they leave a painting of their own. As you look off to the left you notice the rest of the log that you are sitting on and the fading of it’s color and the corrosion that has occurred. Feel the breeze across your face as you glance across the river and see the lush green grass that rolls across the valley and over the hill to where your eyes meet the blue of the horizon.  Let your ears follow the splash of the river on the banks as the water wanders down stream and turns into a roar in the distance. On your way back up the river your ears catch the squawk of the birds as they wait you departure. Back across the river the hillside is covered in darkness as the clouds pass over head and just as fast as the clouds came the trees are again alive with green and creating darkness of their own in their shadows. The valley to your left is alive with animals a bison crossing the river the water running from it’s side as it leaves the river, the pronghorn lazily lying in the grass. As you look closer you notice the grass is speckled with blooming wildflowers the further you look the more you see. Timber scatters the valley along the river from the spring runoff looking further you see the distant Beartooth mountain range, still covered in snow, raise right up out of the valley. Then the race of cars brings you back to your now comfortable log and you put on your shoes get up and walk back to your car as you legs wobble as they start to wake up.

Experiencing Education

Reflecting back on educational experiences through out my life I have noticed the difference between when I have experienced my education and when I have merely been taught. I have also been reflecting on the time that I have been in Yellowstone National park and what I have learned while I have been here. In the book Walden written by Henry David Thoreau he says that he went into the woods to “front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”This is experiencing education, education is not always sitting down in a class room waiting for the teacher to assign homework it is learning something by “oneself or by others”. The reason that I say all of this is because I have noticed so much more as I go into Yellowstone or anywhere for that matter as Thoreau put it “I am a monarch of all I survey” I try to see what threads are in the tapestry before my eyes.
This last week I took a second that turned into about a half hour to watch a couple of ducks that someone had told me were Ruddy ducks, from what I gathered they are pretty hard find. So I walked along the road following the ducks up and down as they swam along the bank of Floating Island Lake. While I was observing them I noticed a few things that ended up being both right and wrong about these ducks. I noticed that the male duck, I assumed it was male due to the colors of the body and the pastel colored beak, would bob it’s head up and down repeatedly making a vibrating clapping sound. I also thought the female was what I latter learned was a coot, due to the coloration of it’s body being almost black and having a different color of beak than the rest of it’s body, white. I also noticed two other ducks that were grayish in color similar to that of the female Mallard ducks, I assumed they were Mallards hanging out with the Ruddy duck. After this experience I went home to further educate myself on the Ruddy duck, I learned that the males beak turns pastel blue only during the mating season and that the bobbing of the head and clapping noise is actually the mating call. And that what I thought were Mallards were actually the female Ruddy ducks following around the males during mating season. In this one experience I educated myself on the Ruddy duck first by observing then by studying. In this day and age most of us are taught by  reading or being told about a particular item. Think of how much we could learn by learning the way those who paved the way learned, by experiencing what we desire to know.
Amongst all the learning and experiencing that we do there is another vital part to us obtaining knowledge, that is through others. Even Einstein did not teach himself to tie his shoes although latter he might have found a better way to tie them. While I am out exploring in the park I look for the opportunity to find someone who knows more than I do (that is not very hard). This last week there was a man that I do not know the name of but who I have seen around Yellowstone for the last three years, and it did not take me very long to notice that when he was stopped with his scope out he was watching or waiting for a grizzly to show up. When I saw him stopped I pulled over to talk to him and learned that he was watching a grizzly and a cub of the year. When I talked to him and when I had listened to him talk the week before one thing that I started to learn was that everything has a name and I should get to know the names. He pointed out every peak, valley, river, and stream and said what everyone was called, he knew his geography. Another man that I watch for is Rick when I ever I see a yellow Nissan Extera I know that he is around and that wolves are around as well. If you just go and stand by him he will teach you directly and by the things that he says into his recorder. For example when I was around him he told the story of the Silver pack it was named after the alpha female a silver (white) wolf. That with in the last year a new alpha took charge and after the fight let the old alpha remain in the pack (which never happens) and that the two other wolves were still “pups” or wolves that were not old enough to give a name or a number to yet. When we take the time to listen and learn from others our knowledge is increased, and when we become the teachers and teach our knowledge is expounded I believe at least ten fold.
There are schools and then there are schools one filled with people and books and the other filled with a vast amount of hypothesis, ideas, and new ways of learning waiting for a vessel to be placed in. The second school I mention is found in both schools, no matter how or what a teacher is, is no excuse for not learning, although for myself and others there are better atmospheres to learn in I believe that once that piece of paper is handed to us we have the charge to take it out into the world and really learn and start placing our footprint in life.    "I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life his life by a conscious endeavor” (Thoreau).