Saturday, August 18, 2012

And there they were

Just like that, there they were, as if someone pulled a lever to change the scene. Rising abruptly from the surrounding landscape, the Teton Range in Wyoming is stunning. Rugged and snow-covered they are a photographer's and mountaineer's dream. And a dream, too, for those who come upon them.

I had come driving around a curve on the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway on my way to Grand Teton National Park from Yellowstone National Park, and there they were before me. No gradual rise or small hills to alert me to a change in elevation, nope they were simply there. I was momentarily stunned to see such a scene before me and could not muster any words except for "wow." Certainly, it seemed, as I think back now, not an appropriate word for the moment or the grandeur. But perhaps it was as it was the easiest word my breath could make while experiencing a moment of now. For contained in that one word was a multitude of feelings and thoughts—awe, wonder, reverence and a deep sense of the age and majesty of planet number three.

Grand they are and grand they stand. Wow.


Grand the plains of the north,
Grand the delta of the south,
Grand the torch of the east,
Grand the canyon of the west,
Grand the land ever new,
Grand the sky hung azure blue,
Grand country of wide span
Many American—
Grander still this land loved best:
Is that it is grandly blest!

Have you been to Grand Teton National Park? What did you think and experience when you first saw them?

 Note: The image shown was taken on the west side of the Teton Range in Idaho and does not depict the view from the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The grizzly bear - 55,000 of them and seven billion of us

 I watched this mother and cub in Yellowstone National Park. I thought myself fortunate to observe them in their natural habitat and because it’s a rare thing. I was mesmerized to see the play and evident affection between them. I was at a respectable distance and kept that distance, as I did not want to disturb their solitude.

I watched for about ten minutes and I quietly moved on when the mom and cub moved on. He was small and looked to be a cub of the year, which is a cub born that spring.

 Seven billion of us inhabit the Earth along with 55,000 grizzly bears. And in the continental U.S., there are 1,200 of them and 330 million of us. In Yellowstone National Park there are 550 of them.

There are six recovery areas in the U.S. for the grizzly including Yellowstone National Park. The population is precarious as smaller populations of species are at a higher risk for extinction. And while there are other populations of grizzlies in Alaska and Canada, the total global population of 55,000 is not a whole lot.

Seven billion of us, fifty-five thousand of them – a little more than what Yankee Stadium holds.

They are listed as threatened. They are legally hunted.

 I wonder what the future holds for this little guy. Will his species survive as our species grows? Will the small pockets of grizzlies be able to stand against threats to their survival such as continued habitat loss, a virus outbreak, shortages of food sources, and a number of other factors that would further reduce their numbers and lead to extinction.

Is there room on the Earth for the grizzly bear and us? I hope there is and I hope my species has the wisdom to let them survive. But, the truth is, we won't decide, nature will, just as it will decide the fate of our own species.

Brooks Falls Brown Bears, Katmai National Park, Alaska