The areas in and around Yellowstone National Park provide countless lessons in good taste and civility in addition to breathtaking scenery. My faith in the future of our people is always reinforced in locations such as these.
Most of that encouragement is based on observations of how people treat each other and their surroundings. While we see the occasional rushing vehicle that’s impatient with wildlife viewing, most drivers observe speed limits and take the time to appreciate the magnificent world around them. The majority of people are respectful, courteous and as grateful for the lushness of the park as I am. Park grounds are immaculate, not only due to the diligence of park staff but also because visitors are conscientious about cleanliness.
We visitors to their national home are generally unobtrusive. Sometimes we pull out of the road to snap pictures or inhale the fragrance of lush wilderness. But occasionally we have a less judicious traveler flipping off an adjacent visitor who didn’t feel like waiting for bison traffic to pass. Maybe this genius will grow up and discover that what’s truly important isn’t immediacy.
Animals establish the tone for laid-back, contemplative observation. The bison methodically wander the hills, stopping to sample a tasty spot of land. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are equally unrattled, ambling and chewing at will. Bears and moose are more elusive, making their appearance extremely joyous.
Many animal sightings occur thanks to gatherings of others who point out nearby critters. It’s as if we share a love for outdoors, wildlife and the grandeur of vast snow-covered hills. Perhaps it’s the realization, conscious or otherwise, that there are truths and magnificent beauty far greater than any one of us.
The hikers, bikers, photographers and amateur viewers all defer to our surroundings. Somehow, we all know that we are ephemeral and grateful for living in this timeless space. Shalom.