The Closing Window (a 24-hour moving meditation across Yellowstone)
Monday, November 7th, 2011
Yellowstone National Park closed its south, east and west gates this morning for the season. I made my annual closing weekend pilgrimage from Jackson and was greeted with deserted roads, low temps around zero, and a spectrum of light ranging from brilliant to brooding. The amusement park infrastructure was shut for the season and the only time I spoke to another person was to some jumpy park rangers, obviously burnt from the summer madness and paranoid that I was armed and dangerous.
Snow and ice now encircle the geysers and rime-coated trees hang dormant over any remaining dry ground. Cracks in the lakeshore ice unleash supernatural sounds like a Star Wars weapon and a cold stillness dominates the pine forest on the Continental Divide.
A herd of bison lumbered across the road in the night in seemingly slow motion, as the freezing fog settled in over Hayden valley. The expression in the eyes of one strong calf as it walked into the dark freeze of the November night was fear. They looked like warriors heading into battle against the coming winter. By morning, hoar frost across Gibbon meadows was sparkling like silver glitter. The blue sky was gone before noon and the snow began.