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Footprints of Time: A Moment With Bill Reflection
“BE AS FREE AS THE AIR OR WATER”
The Crows and Shoshones knew it as a sacred place where mud boiled and fires spewed from the ground. John Coulter, a member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, wrote of geothermal activities in an area later to be known as Coulter’s Hell. Rumors spread for decades of a land where the laws of nature were ignored, a gathering place where great herds of bison roamed and elk were as plentiful as the wildflowers bordering the high mountain valleys.
Today we know it as Yellowstone, the gem of the National Park System and visited by millions of visitors seeking to catch a glimpse of the past and a vision of what life once looked like in the untamed west.
Stand on a hillock at sunset overlooking the Hayden Valley as the sun’s last rays spread over the birch and aspen trees and you will swear you can hear the echoes of our ancestors imploring that we leave well enough alone, that we just for a moment halt the senseless misuse of our lands and allow them to be, once more, sacred.
Before the Nikons, Minoltas and Canons are engaged for the day, walk down to the river and watch the beaver begin another day of engineering; watch the muskrats and the swans interact in a dance as old as time, and ask yourself if this land should ever be used for anything other than a reminder of what life could have been like before greed and short-sightedness had their way.
THE PROMISE OF A BETTER LIFE
The pilgrims are all gone now but the ruts remain. Near Guerney, Wyoming and Three Island Crossing, Idaho, there still exists, one hundred and fifty years later, evidence of a mass migration west in search of promise and hope.
One hundred and fifty years later and the grass still will not grow where the Prairie Schooners once rolled relentlessly onward towards Oregon. One hundred and fifty years later and the names of those with wanderlust in their veins are still etched on the trailside rocks.
One hundred and fifty years later and it is still possible to find a spot along the Oregon Trail where civilization is not apparent, where cell phone towers cannot reach and where, for just one moment, you can imagine what it feels like to be truly insignificant in the grand scheme of life.
LAKE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
So remote was the area of grassy water that long after the entire continent had been explored, white men still had not penetrated its defenses.
The sawgrasses still bend with the wind and the leaves of the cypress trees still rustle, but the land is shrinking as developers keep pushing westward and eastward. Slash pines stand among the sloughs and mangroves somehow survive in the brackish water, providing shade and protection for the gators, herons and tarpon.
Yes, civilization is encroaching rapidly, but still a man, or woman, industrious enough and determined enough, can set foot where no other human being has been, and as the lightning dances above the canopy and the sounds of predators remind us of nightmares past, we are united once again with our primitive ancestors in a delicate dance of preservation.
A beautiful documentary
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
We set aside these places of wonder; we say we cherish them and we visit them by the millions. They are for posterity we say, for the children of our children and beyond we say, and we hold fast to precious memories of our visits to these sacred places.
But what of the rest of the Earth? Is it not sacred too? Should it not be cherished as well?
I was walking the crest of the beautiful Cascades
The air clear, the wind crisp and my heart light
I thought of promises made and promises broken
Stewards we are and stewards we will always be
Or have we forgotten?
Down the ancient corridors we walk
Sharing footprints of time with those who came before
Will we see the beauty around us
Will we save our heritage or will we remain blind.
Beauty plundered for cash.
Dan Fogelberg "Wild Places"
THE CONNECTION IS LOST
There is a connection to the earth that we have lost. We designate certain areas for wilderness conservation, and we speak of the need to be more responsible, but the buck has been passed, and continues to be passed, and responsibility is for someone else to worry about.
Did our ancestors understand, or has it always been this way? Explore, conquer, pave over and use for the “greater good,” which of course is a euphemism for economic progress.
In every generation there has been a small handful of people who see the folly in industrialization. They grab hold of a small piece of land as a drowning man grasps flotsam in the wild seas, and they worked the land, brought bounty to the land and treated the land with the respect it was due. They understood that if the land dies then we die, and they cradled the blessed soil and took only what was needed to survive, always replenishing it so that the harvests would come again and again.
They fought back progress and spurned offers of money, knowing that a price could never be paid for peace of mind and balance of heart and soul. The land was their work; the land was their home; the land was them.
In every generation there has been a small handful of people who understand that preservation of these natural temples is as much about preservation of ourselves as a species, that to lose this bond would be the final act in a tragic play centuries in the making.
And in every generation there are the hordes of ravaging mongrels, tearing and destroying and raping and pillaging, all for a bigger home, fatter bank account and shinier car….cut down that forest, divert that river, strip mine that hillside and frack the hell out of that pristine meadow….for the future is now and there has never been a contract that couldn’t be broken with legalese, hollow promises and pure, unadulterated bs.
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- A Moment With Bill | Reflections about life
Reflections about life (by Billybuc)
The tug of war continues, but the balance is now squarely on the side of industrial and economic progress. The great blue heron sits upon a cypress branch, its talons digging in for extra purchase as though he, too, understands the precarious hold he has on the future. The swans and muskrats frolic on yet another summer day, safe within their Federally-protected cocoon, for the Yellowstone still gives at least the illusion of safety…..
And 300 million Americans continue following the footprints of time, but those footprints are now faded, and some are now lost forever, and the stragglers cannot seem to find their way….
And yet the roadmap is in their souls and the trail has always been etched in their hearts.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”