The Yellowstone river rushed across the landscape with the mountains protecting the landscape. A waterfall cascaded underneath a sheet of ice as the snow shifted with the wind. I clicked out of my skis to notice the splendor of the area. I smiled up at Fern with genuine excitement. In the Summer, Yellowstone is a crowd of frustrating tourists, but in the Winter, it is a cascading wonder of beauty and wildlife.
My favorite picture of my parents is them cross-country skiing with family when they were in the early stages of their relationship. For some reason, the picture always stayed in my mind whenever Winter came knocking once more. As I fumbled to click into cross-country skis for the first time, I laughed at the humbling nature of skiing. Skiing is about sliding sideways, backwards, or even falling down an unintended hill. Luckily, this time, I never fell.
I felt like I was gliding like an animated character as I raced Fern across the snow. With easy tracks to follow from previous skiers, I slid with ease and with little fear of tumbling towards the ground. We ventured out to Tower Falls which was frozen, yet thundered with the rush of water underneath its icy haven. I used to be weary of winter, but now it dazzles me as snowflakes dance to the ground. The snow shimmers in sunlight and whirls in magical swirls across the ground. With bundled layers of wool, I can appreciate its simplicity, its danger, and its majesty.
As we skied back down the hill, I thought about all I had learned about this mysterious land of history and geothermal activity. If Yellowstone erupted its power, it would wipe out half the nation in one blow. Yet, it harbors wildlife in such a beautiful way. We skied past buffalo and drove by a red fox sleeping on the hill. A coyote trotted down the road near the car, and moved his head around as if he was looking for someone. Even amongst all the danger of the land, the animals still seek refuge, and thrive in the Yellowstone Canyon.
Yet, most of all, it is people who have shaped the land to what it is today. It is business men and nature enthusiasts who molded Yellowstone into the sight-seeing wonder it is today. It was the first National Park, and now is the most popular park amongst the 60 National Parks that exist (not including monuments of course). From the history of feeding bears to almost killing off buffalo entirely, this park serves as a lesson.
From reading diaries of those who lived in the land, I have come to realize I may never know what this land looked like when Natives lived in peace with the land, or when Trappers came through in discovery. It looks much different now, but at least it is protected. For that, I am thankful to the rangers, the activists, the past presidents, and the civilians who have fought to protect this sacred place. Your hard work is noticed and incredibly appreciated. In these dark times of uncertainty, I stand with the United States National Parks. Your work is so vital to saving the wild land and wild life of this country. For generations you have fought to protect land that can now be joyful memories for thousands of people. For that, I humbly thank you. Whatever war we fight, at the very least we should be fighting to protect the land that harbors our lives and makes living even possible.
With the power of nature, and the beauty of living, Montana has brought on its splendor of wonders. Even as I curled up from the pain in my shoulders after cross-country skiing, I smiled, because it was beyond worth it. As Fern continues to remind me, I may struggle with pain, but at least I still go out into the world to see its splendid wonders.
If I have legs to walk, I will walk. If I have hands to write, I will write. If I have a voice to speak, I will speak. If I have the spirit of adventure within me, then I will forever be roaming the walls of canyons, trekking through forests, and laughing with the joy that life has to offer. Every moment is precious to me, and I hope I can go to sleep each night with a gentle sigh of gratitude. Whatever season you are in, I hope you find the joy, the lesson, and the gratitude that every day has to offer.
Love and Light,