Musings with Camera in Hand

Belinda Greb – The Photographic Journey


That Which Sustains Us

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
From Yeats’s The Second Coming

Spirit of the Past

Spirit of the Past – The wild in a buffalo’s eye, reflects the spirit of the wilderness, reflects a world that was once unpaved, untraveled. undisturbed. I wonder if the buffalo calls out for the past or if the past speaks to the present in tones low and haunting, traveling on a wind that breathes through the grasses, blows leaves from trees, chases tourists away, makes antelope run and wolves howl. I’m told it sounds like freedom – Belinda Greb on Lamar Valley, Yellowstone.

In a complex and inane society that increasingly seems to demand of us the following: an unsustainable capacity to remember user names, passwords and pins necessitated by the rising numbers of fraudsters and computer hackers whose thievery results in credit card closures and the need for locked mail boxes and identities; the insatiable need of the greedy corporations who devise wonderful ways to imprison us by structuring subscription charges for things that used to be free like t.v. and phone and have their attorneys construct contracts that boast of benefits but include lots of miniscule font sizes for the hidden exclusions; and the unendurable capability to put up with increasing levels of anxiety fostered by job insecurity, prohibitive health care costs, the violence of the fringe fanatics of the world and a natural world in rebellion – it’s important to remember and be thankful for whatever it is that can sustain us through the fray.

Cinnamon Black Bear and Cubs - Pryor Mountain

Standing Cinnamon Black Bear and Cubs – an unexpected bonus during my Pryor Mountain Wild Mustangs Trip.

It’s often a struggle to maintain composure and hope and I was tested this last week.  Worried about the non-arrival of my dog’s I’m Yunity mushrooms (a cancer prevention supplement for hemagiomasarcoma), I checked and found they had been delivered and promptly stolen at my mailbox.  A number of calls followed, resulting both in the disappointing reality that I was out $360.00 and the sad discoveries that the so-called insurance offered by Priority Mail insurance (up to $50) would not be honored; the vendor’s policy did not require a signature for this very expensive supplement; the vendor couldn’t really be concerned about the result of that policy; and that the so-called purchase payment protection plan of my Chase Visa card unfortunately did not cover consumables. I was appalled by the waste of the situation – that someone took something that really couldn’t benefit them in any way. I’m still awaiting a call back from the local sheriff’s department and I am expecting a new mushroom order delivered from Amazon by Fed Ex today (another $337 for a smaller quantity).

Frankly I failed the test.  Overpowered by frustration, feeling overwhelmed, angered and violated, I succumbed to a poor me, what’s the use attitude that lasted a full 36 hours and some of which pervades my spirit as I type. So I’m turning my attention to this blog, the need to express myself, and my promise to share the wonderful experiences I’ve been blessed to have in Yellowstone (this week’s blog)  and the Grand Tetons (next blog).

My time was too short in Yellowstone – I would only have a day there before heading south to Grand Tetons.  Driving west from the Pryor Mountain Mustangs, I was still high from the experience. My drive through Yellowstone at night, when I was driving east to Pryor Mountain, had been eerie with bull elk and pronghorn popping up like specters by the side of the road, but coming back into the park through the east entrance I felt like I was passing through a gateway to the west as I drove through a gorge and then encountered the beautiful Yelllowstone Lake, partially bordered by burnt timber from the 1988 fires.

One of the first amazing things I saw, but failed to get a photo of was a beautiful wolf running right by the side of the road but in the opposite direction just west of Indian Pond.  The sighting happened so fast with cars rapidly pulling of to the side and the wolf crossing the road and then disappearing from sight, it was like an intense moment that one questions if it really just occurred!  I stopped at the Fishing Bridge, one of favorite places in the park for a short walk and then  knowing my time was brief, I headed north towards Lamar Valley.

I had been at the park, two years earlier and seen all the geysers and thermal springs, so this trip I was concentrating on wildlife.  However it was fall, so I also was interested in taking some landscape shots.As you head north towards Lamar Valley you pass through what is called the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This image, Overlooking Yellowstone River, gives you an idea why.

At the junction of the Grand Loop and the NE Entrance Road I encountered buffalo. Although they are big and can be dangerous, they usually seem so placid it lures many tourists into close proximity. Later as I was attempting to head back towards the south entrance to depart the park, I had the fun of being stuck in a buffalo herd traffic jam.

I was hoping to be able to capture wolves or a grizzly and I had been lucky two years prior, but this year it was not to be.  I talked to other photographers who had seen the wolves during the week with their cubs and also near a kill.  I went to the area, but only encountered this lone coyote looking for leftovers and finding none.  I did also see plenty of pronghorn, mountain goat, and also a doe with her twins. There is a sense of camaraderie when you talk to other nature and animal lovers – each excited to share their experiences and helpful in an unusual way that you sadly don’t often encounter that much any more. In Yellowstone, when I have looked into another person’s eyes, I’ve encountered the wonder of a child staring back at me, although they might be thirty or forty or seventy, and I’ve felt that innocence, freshness and wonder myself.

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to see these beautiful things, and these experiences and other authentic ones like this are the things that nobody can steal from me or invalidate.  Experiencing the natural world as well as the understanding and support of friends, the love of family,  the joy and sweetness in my dog’s eyes, and the faith, however sometimes shaky, that the world can be a better place are my sources of nourishment and healing. When the world of men seems a trying mix of horrors and indifference, I seek and must concentrate on that which sustains me and be thankful for it.

Happy Thanksgiving.