“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.” Howard Thurman
I love this time of year. Sun shines in my window earlier and earlier waking me earlier and earlier. Birds flit and sing in the trees around our home. New life abounds. In the skies I look for the return of mountain bluebirds, kestrels, sandhill cranes and osprey. Even my computer fills with spring’s life: Facebook friends ask and reply about what birds have been seen, how far they’ve travelled south through Paradise Valley to arrive on Yellowstone’s Northern Range. I search for those birds as I drive in and out of Gardiner, scanning the juniper trees for Mountain Bluebirds, looking for Kestrels on posts lining the dirt road, spotting an Osprey on the nest near the Yellowstone River, hoping to see Sandhill Cranes on the sagebrush flats.
Our weekend hikes become searches for the first signs of spring; who can find the first Pasqueflower, the first Shooting Star, the first Yellowbell, the first Grizzly track. We stop, exclaim and take photos. I say hello to the flowers and tell them that they are lovely. We check the track and discuss size, species and direction of travel. If we are lucky we might see a herd of bison with new calves in the distance.
Flowers, especially, speak to me this time of year. They remind me of changes, of new beginnings and endings. I came to Yellowstone to stay in 2002, working a job that had been my dream for 30 years. Fred and I moved permanently in 2004. With the move came wholeness as my spirit and body united in this ecosystem. Endings came that May with the death of my mother in Michigan. Bittersweet as this time of year can be, flowers lift my spirit, become shining lights reminding me that life renews.
Pasqueflower conjures up memories of my first spring working in Yellowstone, not quite all here yet, some of me still left behind in Michigan. As I hiked down the Hellroaring Trail, they knocked me out with their beauty. They still do.
When I see Wyoming Kittentails, I remember the difficulty I had identifying the small purple flower, and how excited I was when I finally got it; again a new-to-me flower, found above Slough Creek as I led a group of students for Expedition:Yellowstone!.
Yellowbells, Sagebrush Buttercup, Leafy Musineon, Phlox, Prairie Smoke, Bluebells, Shooting Stars, Evening Primrose, Arrowleaf Balsamroot…All old friends now; I greet them with love each spring.
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant”… Anne Bradstreet