A Sense of Wonder
Yellowstone Geyser Basin — “the place where the center of the earth finds an exit and gives us a glimpse of its soul” ~Anne Koe
Yellowstone is home to the world’s largest collection of geysers (more than 900!) as well as hot springs, fumaroles, and mudpots for a total of more than 10,000 geothermal features. Today we were able to witness the vastness of the Upper, Middle, and Lower Geyser Basins. The Upper Geyser Basin holds the majority of the world’s active geysers, including Old Faithful, Beehive, and Grand. It was amazing to both feel in ourselves and to witness the “child-like wonder” in those around us. We met with Ranger Rebecca who was so fun and incredibly knowledgeable about the geysers of the Upper Basin. We went to Blacksand Pool (also known as “Thumper”) and felt the ground “thump” beneath us as steam bubbled up from within the ground and exited through the pool. Then we saw the paint pots and mudpots. It was an amazing and awe-inspiring last day.
We had our final group meeting on a mountaintop overlooking the beauty of the valleys and peaks surrounding Mammoth Springs. We reflected on regrets, challenges, goals, and achievements. This week, surrounded by our nation’s greatest treasure, has been a week of personal valleys and peaks, challenges and successes. We have seen the geysers spew hundreds of gallons of water in a matter of minutes, the colorful prismatic pools, the blue of the mountain bluebird, majestic mountains, the colors of the wildflowers, and the sense of awe in the eyes of our neighbors. We have heard the swishing of the waterfalls, the howl of the coyote and wolf, and the grunting of the bison. We have felt the love of nature and sense of pride in this great land bubble up from our souls. The sense of urgency for conservation has been awakened within us. We have been asked over and over, why should we fight for this land to continue to be protected and safe. Why is this park important to us and the generations to come? This land is truly our land. It is an inheritance from those who decided decades ago it was a treasure, and decided to protect it. We have so much to learn from the geography, wildlife, and vegetation that springs up from this wild land. As a “civilized society” we have forgotten the value of being in nature, and the healing and restorative powers it holds. Our children spend less time outdoors than ever before and we are reaping the consequences. Our children need the wild. They need to feel the breeze on their faces, run in wide open spaces, dig deep in the dirt, and climb to the highest heights. Let them get scraped knees and pick up slimy frogs. They need to explore the land and learn from it. To experiment, be wild, take risks, and find answers to their questions through the power of direct experience. Nature provides all of this. As parents and educators it is our job to give them the gift of nature.
So as we leave the mountaintop and go back to the civilized world, we will take the heart of Yellowstone with us. We will carry the beauty of what we have seen and the restoration it has provided back to our homes and schools. Because as John Muir said:
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike… Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.