Sunday, October 7, 2012

Colors of Home

The fall here has been beautiful, if early, due the unbelievably dry conditions (I have never witnessed such a dry year in my life).  Scrub oak, maple, aspen, sage and undergrowth all make for a beautiful mix of color and unmistakable "westernness" that says home and harvest and crisp air -- in a word, happiness. We have made some effort to get out and enjoy it.   First up was a Holbrook Canyon hike one Sunday afternoon with the family.

I love this little stream. As I have posted previously, I grew up here; it was my playground and for a time my only non-parental friend (we lived high up on the hill, with no other houses around).  It has been so dry this year I was worried that the cooling water might be less than a trickle, but somehow it was still full enough to make dam building a fun distraction for the kids.  Being with them and my sweetheart, in a place I love, surrounded by such color, was just wonderful.

Next up was a quick trip to Deer Valley with Kathleen.  We left the kids with Kevin and Angela and my Mom and Dad (thanks everyone!) and spent a weekend driving, biking and hiking around Guardsman Pass, Wasatch Mountain State Park, and Midway, with great meals in Park City thrown in around the edges. The colors in Wasatch Mountain State Park (which was founded by my Grandpa Aldin when he was State Parks Director) were amazing.

We stumbled upon a grove of maple that had shed most of its leaves, and yet felt almost like a cathedral.  Here are a few pictures.

I love fall leaves, they are one of the things that make me believe in the love of God.  I know some scientist somewhere will say they simply turn color because of a chemical reaction triggered by cold and fading light, and that's it, but such folks are so wrong to stop there, and assert it as proof of nothing more.  Fine, so chemicals and cold and light produce a reaction -- why?  Why do they behave that way? Why do they do it here, all around us, in the fall, just as the hardship of winter approaches? Who ordained that these principles or laws or facts -- whatever you want to call them -- should exist and work that way?

It seems to me all these questions come down to one of two answers: (a) they just do, or (b) God made it that way.  Einstein, in the end, believed that because the universe had order, and could be understood and predicted, and held such beauty, that there must be a divinity.  I'll side with him on that.  Sunsets make me feel the same way.

These too are the colors of my home, and for me they are a divine message saying, 'don't fear the dark or the cold of night, I am here.' I realize that others may say it is simply a product of the wavelengths of light and the prismatic effect of the atmosphere, but that stops so far short of the real issue.  Everyone is free to choose, that is what life is for, after all, but as for me, I choose to believe there is a source of light and joy and beauty, who made all this, against all odds, in the vast cold vacuum of space.  One of my favorite scriptures is found in our Pearl of Great Price, which says "all things are created and made to bear record of me," and for me, they very much do.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Catching Up on Summer, Version Yellowstone

It has been a whirlwind at work, home and everywhere these days.  I have no idea how life gets so busy -- curse of my generation, I think. For sanity's sake, I have to believe that simpler existed somewhere, somehow, back in the days of my youth. My parents may beg to differ, I don't know, but it takes a minor miracle simply to get a blog post together these days, and that is just wrong.

Anyway, I am determined to try and post some events from our summer over the next few days.  First up -- a mad-dash getaway to Yellowstone over Labor Day weekend.  Inexplicably, I had forgotten the wonder of this place. After establishing camp at the Madison River Campground on Wednesday night, we drove on into the park on Thursday morning, and the kids just burst out with Wows, Oohs and Aahs the second we saw Lower Geyser Basin.

The highlights continued from there -- Old Faithful and Upper Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hotsprings and the Yellowstone high country, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Yellowstone Falls, the Hayden River Valley, Firehole River, Grand Prismatic Springs, Firehole Lake Drive -- I could go on. But if you ever need to really understand how truly special this place is, and the impact it has as our best idea -- the birthplace of national parks -- then just try spotting license plates from different places and counting all the different languages, as we did.  Yellowstone is special for the whole world.  And that is something.

Words really fail here -- all I can hope to do is show the kaleidoscope of geo-color and sky splitting spouts that makes this such an amazing place.

Old Faithful

Chromatic Pool

Beehive Geyser

Morning Glory Pool

Old Faithful Lodge from Geyser Hill

Unnamed Pool and Geyser Hill

Plume Geyser

Beauty Pool

A bacterial trail near Beauty Pool

Kids at the Firehole River

Which is quite aptly named.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Pool detail

Kate loved every minute of our hike around the Upper Geyser Basin. Of course, it was not all geysers and pools. There were:

Bison and Elk and towering peaks,

And even Sandhill Cranes.

Devastation and regeneration

make for trees sized to please

With waterfalls galore

And geology and rainbows

(who could ask for more?)

But of course there was -- Hayden Valley highlights

And stumps to climb

Moonlit Madison River night hikes

And plenty of family time.  

Yet the fact that you sit atop the caldera of the largest volcano in the history of the planet--and that it is still hot after 680,000 years!--never really leaves you. The still bubbling hole it left is roughly the size of Rhode Island, I think. Seems bigger in fact. Imagine that eruption, and the devastation it wrought.  

But who knew that such massive destruction could create this?

And so there is a hope promised everywhere here, that out of the darkness of ash and smoke and burning flame, there will come the light of another day, with color and blue skies and white puffy clouds, and all the beauty that brings. Maybe this is why Yellowstone really is the world's park, a special place, reminding us all of the wonder to be found in the crust over-topping a burning abyss.