“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein
Spring has arrived in Yellowstone. Finally. Winter was great and skiing the best but, come March, I am ready for sun and warmth. This year, spring hesitated before showing up. She would come for a day or even just a few hours then hide her face while winter flexed its muscles. In May she traded weeks with winter, taking turns with sun and warmth then snow and cold.
Now, in June, perhaps spring has finally lost her shyness and is here to stay. Flowers bloom riotously, lower hillsides are green before turning summer brown. Snow still covers Electric Peak and you can still ski up in the Beartooths. Bear mothers roam the ridges with their cubs, wolf puppies rough and tumble play outside their dens while delighted visitors view them through spotting scopes. Bison calves sprawl asleep in the grass on warm afternoons, and elk calves are just beginning to be visible.
I am fortunate to have hiking partners that are always up for adventure. We spend days hiking trails or exploring off trail routes. We laugh. We point out flowers, bones and rocks. We take photos. We share snacks. We discuss questions about our natural world. I appreciate it all.
One thing stands out when I think of hiking with these friends. Gratitude. Each time we hike, one of us starts it by saying how thankful we are for the day, for the weather, for the opportunity to spend time together, for the land. Over time, almost unconsciously, we have cultivated an atmosphere of gratitude, to the point where I miss it if I am with others who do not give voice to appreciation. When we voice our thanks, we celebrate the present moment. Who knows what the future may bring? But here and now, we voice gratitude. It all serves to raise our happiness quotient.
With the idea of fostering happiness, lowering stress, improving health and becoming generally a better person, here are a few wild things for which I am grateful:
**Living in this Yellowstone ecosystem that feeds my soul. After years of living with one foot back in Michigan and the other in Yellowstone, I now feel whole.
**The ability to hike and be outside in beauty. Sure, I am slowing down but the key is that I still get out there.
**Time. I am grateful for this time of my life, and having the time to explore the wild deeply. Whether I explore Yellowstone or the Canyons of Utah, I am grateful for time.
**Friends who are willing to share my explorations. They teach me so much, give me such pleasure, so many laughs.
**A husband who loves to hike, but who slows down for flowers.
**A deep curiosity about our world. Especially, I want to know about everything Yellowstone, and I am grateful for that questioning side of myself that keeps me growing.
**I am especially grateful for the wild places in our country. We have incredible places of beauty, of historic and prehistoric significance. We are so very fortunate to have these public wild lands in which to roam.
And you, dear reader? What wild things bring joy to your heart? What are you thankful for? Let us begin a thankfulness list for wild things in the Comment section below. We’ll all be happier for it.
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. John Muir