I wrote this when Yellowstone’s wolves were still a novelty and they were referenced with two-digit numbers. I am posting it today for a friend’s birthday. Mike
Five layers of warmth under my Gortex shell serve as an effective barrier against the wind and cold, snow impacts the small amount of skin I have exposed, spring has returned to Yellowstone. Gloves are the weak point of my defense; they are thin, allowing easy manipulation of my spotting scope. My upwind hand bears the brunt of the winter-like conditions; it has become a frequent visitor with the hand warmer in my left jacket pocket. Bits of snow find my open eye, forcing me to blink. The reaction is disturbing, I might miss the Druids.
Blowing snow has reduced the possibility of a sighting, but I persist, a sighting will warm my heart, the cold will disappear. With the snow, wind carries many sounds of nature. This day, it will not carry the call of the wolf. My ear is tuned, I know the howl, I know the feeling it creates inside. I know how it can silence a crowd as all ears focus on a single sound. No vocalist could ever command such attention or achieve such perfection.
With a quick twist, the legs of my tripod collapse. One could say the cold and snow have won, I did not see a wolf, I am leaving without achieving my goal. They would be wrong. I stood in below freezing temperatures, I stood in the blowing wind and snow of a late May storm. I experienced Yellowstone. Another aspect of this park owns a small corner of my mind, it is written in my journal, it is waiting.
I will not always hike Yellowstone; time will take that from me. Another Alpha will lead the Druids, another pack will rule Lamar, another hiker will walk this valley. My notes will bring me back, I will be here again. I will see wind jerk the image in my scope, I will lean into its strength, I will remember when wolves were not here.
I will remember when I did not see a wolf; it will enhance the memory of their return.