The day had been perfect, dripping with sun, and fresh air, and adventure. Spitting geysers, rainbow hot springs and a wonderful sense of just how infinite the world is, and just how small we are inside it. The only thing missing was our 'spirit guide' the buffalo, and fulfilling a promise to a friend. This was soon taken care of after a swim in the Fire River.
We had gathered our things, piled back into the car and were on our way to the next great wonder. Unfortunately (but really fortunately) as I moved to exit the car I realized something was amiss... my shoes were no where to be found. New ones too, strappy sandals that reminded me of childhood. I looked over sadly at my traveling companion, he knew. And so we piled back in, crossing our fingers my shoes were right where I left them, the space between the car door and the warm river water.
Most wonderfully, they had not moved from the patch of dirt on I left them on. We turned back around to continue on our journey relieved, and now a little rushed. But it was worth it. The travel gods had a trick up their sleeves, and was I ever grateful. Just minutes before we had passed a stretch of grassland and I had thought "there should be a buffalo there". Upon retracing our steps those thoughts sprang out from my head, and materialized in that vary field.
There, pawing at a mound of dirt was a lone bull, old and rugged. You could see the life and stories in his coat, his stance and his dark and cloudy eyes. He was gleeful in his itching, in his pawing, and soon, in his rolling. Suddenly age was no matter, he kicked his hooves irreverently into the wild air. Bits of dust swirled around him, it was a moment of pure joy.
One moment turned into several, and the lone buffalo soon had a large audience. The sound of screeching car brakes and many oohs and ahhs drifted between exuberant, dusty rolls. He didn't seem to be bothered by any of it, he had seen these strange creatures before.
After a few minutes he finally had enough. The dirt had done it's job, fully coating his old hide, cooling him and protecting him form the sun. It seemed to amplify is presence, his wisdom, it was perfect.
The Old Man of Yellowstone sat in the remaining cloud of dust, satisfied at a job well done. He even looked a bit like he was smiling. Realizing the spectacle was over I reluctantly went back to my seat, mentally taking into account the distance between me and the wildness of that beautiful old bull. It was vast and impenetrable, and so close I could almost touch it. We drove away slowly, full of gratitude. We found our 'spirit guide', and I got to take a photo and keep a promise to an old friend.
* Last time in Books and Stories: Fairy Lands