Hyrum's been drawing pictures for me of things like moose skulls and ‘good horses’ over the last few days. For people with no children, of which I know quite a few, this might not sound like a big deal, or worse, it might sound like yet another cloying "my child did this amazing thing" post. Stick with me...
Nevertheless, it has triggered yet another intensely introspective instinct in me, making me think about the urges that drive my own thoughts and actions. What are the dominoes that made Hy begin this latest slew of drawings based on large quadrupeds and ungulents? Perhaps it begins with my own pet obsession with Yellowstone, driving all the way up there at times at the drop of a hat and welcoming into our home any quality program or publication that I find about the park and surroundings.
It began for me the summer after I graduated from High School. I had long fostered a curiosity about the area while never making it up there. Toward the end of July, my friend Andrew began talking quite seriously about heading up there to work. He had spent the year after he graduated waiting tables at Honee's Restaurant just west of downtown Salt Lake City and attending the University of Utah. He just wanted to get out of Dodge. I can't remember exactly how I hitched my wagon to that star, but before we knew it, we had agreed that his parents were going to drive us up and mine would come later in the fall to tote us back home.
We drove up to Gardiner, Montana, the headquarters for then Yellowstone-concessionaires, TW Services, in the Bigelow family Dodge van. Many adventures we had in that old van over the years, but this was the greatest of all, I'll have you know.
We arrived at the main offices and each got jobs assigned at Old Faithful, he at the Inn as a dishwasher and me as a room attendant at the lodge. We even roomed together in a small two-bed cabin behind the old post office. Drew’s blessed mom and dad dropped us and our stuff off there, and started back for home. We were off on our little journey, as well.
That summer was magical. Those were some of the last of the remnant of the good old days in the park, one year before the big fire and back when one could ride one's bike wherever one wanted at any time in the park. We walked the boardwalk around the geysers at three in the morning, we made some great friends, we had some close brushes with some amazing wildlife and we learned a lot about each other; and more especially, about ourselves.
I've always enjoyed the outdoors, finding solace and inspiration in that which lies outside, but my Yellowstone experience really gave a body to the soul of my being, a place to which I can always reference my internal milieu. The bison, elk, coyote, cutthroat, brook trout, brown trout, garter snakes, moose, brown and grizzly bear, swans. geese, eagles, ravens, hawks, larks, marmots, squirrels, local dogs and horses, and more recently, the wolves each taught me something specific about myself and my place within the environment in Yellowstone, and by inference, my place within myself. That is an invaluable gift, and one that has carried me to where I am now in spite of all of my own weaknesses and foibles.
So, as Hyrum Mohandas draws and presents me with his wee drawings of moose, elk and deer, each with a story, I try to truly listen to the words and expressions that he uses. Each drawing and story is an opportunity for a little more of that Yellowstone spirit- something teaching Hyrum and me about ourselves, and more especially, about our relationship to each other.