Notes from Yellowstone #2

Critters. It’s one of the things that keeps people coming to Yellowstone. The vast park contains some of the best specimens of North American wildlife to be found anywhere on the continent. My friend, John, has visited twice a year for more than a dozen years, and it’s the wildlife that brings him back.

I emphasize, this is wild life. These animals are not passive zoo animals waiting for their scheduled meals. People get killed in Yellowstone every year because they ignore this fact. This year, it’s been silly tourists trying to get selfies with bison. The bison win. Every time.

Yesterday morning, when I took the dogs out for the morning wee walk, we almost walked right up on two elk cows resting in the the wildflowers between the two helipads where we have been watching the sun rise over the eastern rim of the caldera. I saw them just in time to move the dogs in another direction before either of them smelled or saw the elk. They have very little brains, these dogs, and they’d have gotten us all killed.

Besides the elk and bison, bears and wolves, moose and squirrel, there are other critters in Yellowstone that most folks don’t see, like the snowshoe hare which I saw out my window yesterday, eating the seed tops off the grasses behind my Hovel. Or the long-tailed weasel that has been sneaking past the dormitory door as I write this.

There are also some little critters that folks should probably look out for. Deer mice, for instance, of Hanta virus fame. Day before yesterday, I found my roll of paper towels had been nibbled on at one end and there were a few small rodent droppings in my silverware drawer. I was laying down new drawer liners when I discovered the tell-tale little specks of poo (about the size of the end of a pencil lead). I immediately went into sanitizing mode, wiping everything down with diluted bleach water (4 oz/1 gal), rewashed and rinsed (in bleach water) all of the silver and utensils that had been exposed, and made a note to order mousetraps from Amazon (my new best friend).

Then, yesterday, I noticed a brownish black spot on one of the sofa cushions. Hmmmm. I had just cleaned and vacuumed on Thursday…then, it moved. A tick! Not a lyme disease carrying deer tick. Nah. This was just a regular old carrier of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever tick. I dispatched it with isopropyl alcohol and treated both of the dogs to some flea/tick medicine/poison.

Now is when a partner would really come in handy. Those end of the day tick checks can be hilariously fun.

This afternoon, I walked the dogs down to the marina. A little over a mile, down and back. So many smells for them to go nuts over, and a very long walk to wear them out, followed by a cold Moose Drool for momma, a little Joni Mitchell and Ingrid Michelson on the stereo, and the critter-filled forest outside my window…life is pretty good here in Yellowstone.

Simplify. Simplify. HDThoreau

Yesterday morning, before I went out to find some wifi and check my mail (and order mousetraps), I decided to change some things to make my life simpler and leave me more time for observing the things around me, rather than looking for stuff.

I’ve ditched the purse. I’ve ditched most of the crap that was in the purse, and in my wallet (or at least put it somewhere where I can get to it if I need it). Then I ditched the wallet. I’m carrying a small spiral note pad, a pen, my little Fuji camera, and my cell phone with a case that holds the minimum necessary IDs and a few bucks. Everything can be carried in one of the pockets of one of the layers I wear.

The weather is much cooler up here on the lakeside (over 7800′). My furnace (set to 55ยบ) has run every morning. It makes for lovely sleeping, snuggled down under a comforter and looking out at the stars above the treetops outside my bedroom window.

I’ve read the news
I know
about the murders
in Chattanooga
the conviction of the Aurora theater
It’s the same shit
different day
And I’ve decided
at least for this summer
it’s not my shit
I don’t have to let any of it
stick to me
The 24-hour doom and gloom news cycle
can go on
without me
for a while.
I have another source of entertainment
that nourishes my spirit
and I am not inviting any vampires
to the feast.


About Sharon

Like anyone who lives long enough, I have experienced great loss and survived. I am convinced that my survival depends on my own participation in creating the reality I am living in, and I am determined to be a thoughtful and active participant/creator. These writings are my way of documenting that creation. As the song goes, "I will survive!" I chose the title Staying Vertical because I find that surviving isn't just staying on my feet physically. Keeping my thoughts and emotions on the vertical plane keeps me alive and moving forward. Thanks for joining me!
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3 Responses to Notes from Yellowstone #2

  1. Mary Lou Hymel says:

    Moose and squirrel? Awesome! Sounds like a great, restorative time. Continue your vigilance, and soak up the many blessings of the natural life!

  2. The mice thing gives me the “ohmygodcreeps.” But the silence and tranquility? Priceless. I love your sharing.

  3. Jan Parrish says:

    Mice and ticks? Ugh. Hope you don’t find any chiggers or snakes. :)

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