"The Grand Prismatic Spring"Our last week of the big road adventure was spent in the Tetons and in Yellowstone Park. The geysers and hot springs were definitely highlights — here the Grand Prismatic Spring, which truly was, indeed, grand.

But the final day will be one most fondly remembered, for at last , we saw a bear. And what a sighting it was!  Some of us had not seen a bear before, ever, and we had looked and looked, all the days, in all the places:  Jenny Lake, Hayden and Lamar valleys, traveling along from Fishing Bridge to Artist’s Point, Mammoth Hot Springs, to Old Faithful.

We had seen elk, up close, and with calves, and bison and bison and more bison.  What impressive hulks they are!  And the great numbers of little ones made the viewing sweet.  But no bear.  Even the dead bison near a lake by the side of the road where we camped for breakfast (and had the good luck of seeing nesting Sandhill Cranes, some stunning Ruddy ducks, an Osprey, hawks, Red Blackbird Wings…), which we thought would surely attract a bear, did not.

But in our final evening foray, we were gifted.  First a few black dots way up in the fields, against the forest edge, and we were thrilled.  We could see them rambling and moseying along.  The gathering of cars with binocs and cameras had clued us to the noteable sight.

The denouement, however, came on our drive home, as dusk was turning into evening and the kids were already settled into drowsy contentment.  There she was.  Right by the side of the road, just slightly below us, and we all knew this was it — our special, ‘Good Night  and Good Bye Bear’, the one we had all secretly hoped for.  Up close and personal, just for us.  We watched her (or him, we don’t know for sure), ease along among the brush, looking for just the right spot to settle for the night, and then begin to groom herself, turn over, around, seeming to notice us, but not to mind. The children came up front, climbed into my lap, and we all watched, entranced, for about ten minutes.

As I sensed their bodies in my lap, and felt the gift of the moment, the rare opportunity to be with wildness, with the natural flow of things, and aware and attuned to our unique and immediate version of the mystery, I took a deep breath, and realized that this was indeed a memorable moment.  One that will stay emblazoned in my psyche with colors of connection and wonder, that were every bit as brilliant as the Grand Prismatic Spring!

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity. Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.

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