4:45 A.M. In The Morning

Today’s writing prompt: Sweeping Motions What’s messier right now — your bedroom or you(r) computer’s desktop (or your favorite device’s home screen)? Tell us how and why it got to that state. 

It’s 4:45 A.M. in the morning

and you’re up and at it.

Yellowstone hasn’t slept

and you know that

the past few hours in bed

at home

on the computer

have been filled with life

and death.

Wolves and elk.

Bears and moths.


and hot water.


The door closes behind you on

a room of things that don’t matter.


Camping & Tramping with Roosevelt

Today’s Post Topic: Reader’s Block  What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?

After a year in Yellowstone, all I had read were technical scientific journals and historical documents.  When I tried to pick up an enjoyable read, I just felt burnt out.  All of my old favorites had lost their vigor: Kingsolver, King, Joan Rivers (and I love Joan Rivers).

One day I was skimming through the work library looking for information on aspen recovery to use in an upcoming program.  A small book grabbed my eye, “Camping and Tramping with Roosevelt.”  Written by naturalist John Burroughs on Roosevelt’s 1903 visit to Yellowstone country.  I picked it up and read it right there.  And then read it again.  I’ve gone on a vacation this weekend, and I brought it to read again.

There is something in the way Burroughs writes about their visit that is light and satisfying.  He puts on no airs.  They were bored by the thermal areas.  He was nervous about skiing and that he couldn’t keep up while hiking.  And yet his account of Roosevelt’s curiosity and propensity toward adventure was invigorating.


My favorite quote:

In front of the hotel were some low hills separated by gentle valleys. At the President’s suggestion, he and I raced on our skis down those inclines. We had only to stand up straight, and let gravity do the rest. As we were going swiftly down the side of one of the hills, I saw out of the corner of my eye the President taking a header into the snow. The snow had given way beneath him, and nothing could save him from taking the plunge. I don’t know whether I called out, or only thought, something about the downfall of the administration. At any rate, the administration was down, and pretty well buried, but it was quickly on its feet again, shaking off the snow with a boy’s laughter. I kept straight on, and very soon the laugh was on me, for the treacherous snow sank beneath me, and I took a header, too.

“Who is laughing now, Oom John?” called out the President.

The spirit of the boy was in the air that day about the Cañon of the Yellowstone, and the biggest boy of us all was President Roosevelt.

Find the whole text here: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33053/33053-h/33053-h.htm

Grizzly Encounter: One Voice Too Many

Today’s Post Topic: Counting Voices A lively group discussion, an intimate tête-à-tête, an inner monologue — in your view, when it comes to a good conversation, what’s the ideal number of people?

Grizzly Encounter: One Voice Too Many

We were on a break

when you first appeared

with your big brown head.

Some were sitting on the fallen log

talking about their lives:

the dog, the kids, back home,

not here.


The conversation was not based

on the sulfur green lake

or the smell of the forest.

We only paid slight attention

to the sound of the bugling elk.

How romantic

as we bantered on.


Then from the shadows

I saw you move.

And every voice in the forest

was one voice too many.


Your ear is missing

and your face is scarred.

I recognize you:

that big, old bear.

You don’t recognize me.

You don’t care.


Long claws hit the

soft rock on the trail.

And now everyone

is aware.

You walk closer

and we back away.

And then you’re gone.


Everything is quiet


Dictionary, Shmictionary: Bubble Shower Spring

Today’s Post: “Dictionary, Schmictionary” Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).

They’re taking notes, she thought as they rounded a corner around the boardwalk.  The group behind her was filled with respectable professionals, some of them even professors of science.  But it was their first trip to Yellowstone, and she was there to guide them.

Amy, the English major.  And she, herself, had only been working in Yellowstone for two months.

In the visitor center they had asked her what she studied in school she gave only the name of her Master’s degree, “Park Management.”  And left the words hanging in the air.  They must have imagined her as Park Superintendent or GIS expert.  Or so she thought.

They stepped out onto the boardwalk and Amy stepped into the role of the professor.  She had prepared and memorized a lecture to give to her students.  And they were in awe. They were taking notes!

At Doublet Pool the water lapped gently against its banks.  The lecture continued.

“Water hammer occurs in a piping system when the flow is suddenly slowed down or stopped.  A vertical steam filled pipe receives water from above which carries down vapor that condenses rapidly and causes a water hammer.  Thus causing a collapse of the steam bubbles into liquid water,” she quoted from the textbook she had read days before.

She then wrote down the equation for the water hammer occurrence on her small whiteboard.  Delta p is equal to….

Inside she was lamenting her old way of teaching.  She would have the participants sit down on the boardwalk.  From there they could feel the vibrations of the underground steam bubble collapse.  She would then have them hypothesize what could be causing the thud, and only after would give a brief and simple description.

Forget that!  They’re taking notes!

Ahead on the trail was Beach Spring. A small hole in the ground filled with bluish-gray water.  It didn’t boil, it didn’t thud, it did not erupt.  And Amy could only remember from some distant textbook that it was a “bubble-shower spring.”

The lecture continued.

She said, “This is a bubble-shower spring.”

And she turned her back on the group wanting to continue.  Wanting to make it to the Lion Group of geysers where she remembered every bit of jargon.

“What is a bubble shower spring?” asked a man in the back of the line.

Lesson learned: teach what you know.  Be who you are!

Ready, Set, Done: Elk

Today’s post is: Ready, Set, Done “10 minutes. You and your keyboard (or smartphone. Or tablet. Or pen and paper). No pauses, no edits, no looking back: it’s free-write time!”

See Elk Run ( エルク実行]を参照してください)

Closer.  Closer.  Closer.  Facebook.  Photo.  Must get closer.

The Elk Rut

The elk (Cervus elaphus) rut occurs once every year in early Fall.  Bull elk, strong from a summer’s worth of feeding, herd together harems of females and protect them from other bulls or possible threats (like tourists getting too close).   The bulls use their antlers to display their strength and health, attracting females and warning other bulls.  He might also bugle.  A bugle is a high pitched call.  A female is only in estrus for 24 hours, so the bull must be ready.  At the end of the rut season, the harems disband.


A scream in the dark

on an early morning’s walk to work

The sun is just rising behind

giving its glow to the big mountain