Yellowstone National Park. Where do I find the words to describe it? For nothing quite prepares you for the immensity or diversity of this place; for miles upon miles of un-spoilt beauty. Trying to describe it would be futile. It is too different from anything that I have ever seen or experienced before.
I was fascinated by it, and yet, a part of me feared it. I feared the primeval force that had caused it. I was in awe of the super-volcano that had birthed it. Because Yellowstone was born of fire. And what do I know of fire? I who come from an island that was thrust from the watery depths of the Mediterranean. Fire is as alien to me as a thunderstorm in July.
But in Yellowstone, fire, or its effects, are a constant presence. From within the earth, it powers the geysers and the hot springs; on the surface, the forest fires that sometimes rage here during the summer months give life to new growth – saplings rise from the ashes of dead trees. The old makes way for the new in a constant cycle of renewal and rebirth.
In Yellowstone, nature is constantly in motion. The landscape varies from valleys to mountains; from arid geo-thermal areas, with their skeletal trees, to brooding forests of pine and aspen; from cascading waterfalls to gently flowing rivers; from lush meadows to barren mountain faces.
Life and death are everywhere in Yellowstone; in the constant struggle to survive; in the repetitious wheel of the seasons. We went to Yellowstone in search of the wild-life and, except for some small herds of elk and moose, came back none the wiser. No grizzlies or black bears hurtled out of the trees to disturb our strolls. But we did get to see the eternal symbol of the west. Five times we spied a lone bison. Never in a herd; never with a companion, as lonesome as the winter wind.
At the edge of a lake or in the shadow of a clump of trees, it grazed on the grass, its seemingly gentle demeanor belying its strength and bulk. Before white men came from across the ocean, he was. That he has survived, despite the decimation of so many of his breed, is a poignant reminder of the enduring legacy of Yellowstone.
I have tried to describe Yellowstone to you in as concise a manner as possible. But I have failed, for no words can quite convey the true nature of this strange and fascinating landscape. The only way to truly experience Yellowstone is to go there and see it for yourselves.