Notes from Yellowstone #3

Pictures. Some of you have been asking for pictures, please. I understand the craving. Especially those of you who are highly visual, artists attuned to the nuances of light and color; space and perspective. I have a little Fuji that I carry with me every day now. I’m trying to take a few pictures every day. 

The deal is that I have relatives and friends who are real, honest-to-goodness photographers. Like my cousin, Arla Ruggles, who does fabulous portraits of the Nevada landscape and its denizens (particularly the wild horses that she is so passionate about protecting). Or my friend, Sam Corum, who is busy documenting history through his camera lenses in Washington DC and Ferguson and Charlotte. They and others like them can tell stories with their pictures, using light and color and space and perspective.

I’m not a photographer. I’m a writer telling a story, using and honing the tools of the trade…finding my “voice.” Playing with words, sounds, rhymes, light and color, space, and perspective. Photographs never tell the whole story, for me. In Zion National Park, I became quite frustrated with my lack of photographic ability. The place was stunning. Majestic. And I couldn’t get a single photograph that captured any of it. A real artist (with a real camera) might have done it. I’m not that artist.

I’m a writer. Whether I am a good writer, or not, I write. There will be photos. As soon as I find the guru to help me throught getting them from computer into blogware, there will be photos.

Work. I went back last evening, working a six-hour shift that included closing the facility for the night. This meant cleaning the showers and toilets once again, to make them sparkly for the early morning risers. It was a little easier this time. I wasn’t in competition with my 27-year old self. I still fell into bed and slept pretty hard afterwards. I go back in at 2 today…until 11. That means I get to participate in the great hose down, twice in a single day. I’m so jazzed. Yeah. We’ll see how that goes. I have dreams of being trapped in ropy strands of long wet hair and congealed soap. It makes me want to shave my head again.

Last night, I got home in the pitch black dark of night. The stars were brilliant, but they don’t do much to light a path, and there are very few area lights in Yellowstone. The dogs’ wee walk was only as far as the vacant campsites across the road from The Hovel. All the while I am furtively searching the edge of the wood for bears with my little LED flashlight. I don’t really know what I would have done if that thin beam of light had actually come across anything. Scream? Jump at it, shouting “Booga! Booga!”? Perhaps I should get some bear spray? Then I can juggle it with the leash, the poop bags, the flashlight, and two mindless little dogs while I get eaten by a bear.

By the way, there are still jobs at Yellowstone for this summer. You won’t get rich. Pay starts at $8.30 an hour for housekeeping jobs. Camper Services is a little better at $8.60; however there are no tips left behind by showerers and those doing laundry. (Unless you count the used soap left in the dishes or the bandaids left on the shower room floors. And the hair. My dear Lord. The hair. ) There are deductions for taxes, the campsite or dorm room, electricity using at the campsite, and the company-contracted medical service provider. I figure I will clear at least a dollar two ninety eight by the end of the pay period. It’s like we used to say in the Air Force, “If you’re in it for the money, you’ve picked the wrong career.”

Most of the people working here have been doing this seasonally for more than a few years, because they love it here. It allows them to live in the wilderness for more than a day and a half. It gives them time to sit on the water’s edge and watch a storm coming across the lake in time to get inside to shelter. Meteorology learnt by observation. Dozens of observations.

I met a beautiful young woman serving at one of the village dining facilities the other night. She is spending her third summer at Yellowstone from her home in Prague, Czech Republic. Her English was exquisite, unlike my Czech. I speak none. We had a nice chat. I was fortunate to have visited Prague for a week in 2003, as well as a couple of the little villages nearby. I was building training for a US client who spent a lot of time traveling. It was early November, and the weather was becoming a little dreary and definitely frigid. I was grateful for the new jacket that I’d hoped was not a needless splurge. It was a lifesaver on that trip!

It’s now my utility jacket

and I’ve left it behind

of course

opting for a fashionable cute black number

that renders me invisible

in the dark.

Did I tell you?

It gets dark

really dark

coming home late at night

when there is no moon

to penetrate these trees.

Creeping carefully

along the audacious trail

threading through looming lodgepole giants

headlights swallowed by the forest

Would there be a bear?

And there was



Major and Minor

walking the shifting spears

at the tops of the trees.       sgf///7/19/15

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 #3

  1. Ron and I had a couple good chuckles here and then you leave me speechless with your poetry. Such love.

  2. Frank Knowles says:

    Lady, I’m still so envious of the adventure you are experiencing. And your writing made it as though I was looking over your shoulder. And the verse for dessert!……..Just……wow……
    Keep it coming, please?

  3. Jan Parrish says:

    Your writing voice and poetry really speaks to me. :)

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