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The Opening of Eyes

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” — Einstein

Several years ago, Kathy and I were in Jasper National Park. We had gone for a drive and stopped at an overview of a valley. The rest area was quite large and we walked around it trying to get different views of the valley.

We noticed something at the far end of the area just on the other side of the low stone wall. We moved quietly towards it and realized it was a young elk, probably a cow. She sat almost perfectly still, posing for the camera.

David Whyte wrote this lovely poem about the opening of eyes. That evening, if our eyes had not been open, we would not have seen the elk quietly laying there with only her head showing above the wall. It begs the question: How much do I miss even with my eyes open? What solid ground do I miss as a I move through life with closed eyes?

The elk would have known we were there, but we took precautions to be still and quiet so to not stress her. The attention to quiet in a quiet place by a wild animal reminded me of opening my eyes to experience the world more fully.

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.


Jasper Elk

I traveled the last couple of days and, as I went through Jasper National Park, I came across these two elk. They were just off the side of the highway and have a full rack of antlers.

This one was by himself eating.

Elk 5

This one was not as cooperative in showing his face.

Elk 7

The shy one decided the grass was greener over in the other one’s pasture and began to move over.

Elk 1

The interloper begins to push the original out of his pasture. You could hear the clash of the antlers and the intruder seemed able to push the first one back.

Elk 6

I was closer to an elk when we were in Yellowstone several years ago. There is a story to the picture I took as I climbed down the embankment into the ditch and a moment later one of the other tourists we were with tumbled down the embankment. I told her it was OK because I thought could run faster than her.

I was probably 50 or more feet away from the ones in Jasper. I was only about 15 feet from the one in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Elk

Yellowstone 2005

We love to travel and these are from our trip to Yellowstone National Park in 2005.

I was able to get within 15-20 feet of this bull elk. There were several trees between him and I plus I believed I was faster than at least one other person down there with me.

This is Emerald Spring. The emerald colour is a product of the reflected blue colour from the pool and the yellow sulfur. Although it does not seem very deep, this spring is 27 feet deep.

This is Steamboat Geyser. When it erupts, it is capable of producing a column of 300-400 feet in height which is 2-3 times higher than that of Old Faithful. The difference and a reason Old Faithful is better known is it is predictable in its eruptions because Steamboat Geyser is not and its major eruptions occur four days to 50 years apart.

This is the Pearl Geyser area. I love mountains and it was that aspect of this picture which drew me. We lived in McBride, a small town in British Columbia, for two years and were surrounded by the mountains. We drive through McBride several times a year.

This is in the Cistern Spring area. Living algae and bacteria create the ‘living colours.’

Twig Geyser erupted for us.

This is a view across Yellowstone Lake to the mountains.

We do not get many swans in the Edmonton area. I enjoyed the single one on the river. There were other pictures, but this one had a stillness I found appealing.

Kathy took this picture. My morbid fear of heights forced me to hang out in the parking lot. She walked in to the overlook and this was the result.

Yes, I am pretty sure Kathy took this one, as well.

I started with the elk and will finish with a bison. He was seriously considering what I was doing. I took this one from about 10 feet away with the front of the van between him and me. He grunted at me a couple of times, but kept moving when I grunted back.

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