If I could take you to Yellowstone National Park, I would take you there on a sweet September morning. So early in the morning, the sky above the horizon was still a deep velvet blue and stars hadn’t yet faded and the moon still hung low on the horizon.
I would drive you into the gates of the park just as the sun rises, when the mist is rising off the shaggy backs of great buffalo as they graze the vast grasslands framed by tall mountains. When the Mergansers are diving into the deep lake in search of breakfast. When the birds are beginning to sing, calling out to one another as they danced in the limbs of the tall pine trees. When the wolves are up and on the move, loping, striding, skimming the earth as they run. When the bears - already conscious of the shorter days and cooler nights and the long winter to come - are foraging for berries and the moose are running across the river, supporting great antlers, effortlessly, nobly, breathing puffs of steam as they stop to sniff the air.
If I could take you to Yellowstone I would keep you there for days. We would see it all together, watching an ancient and foreign landscape in every direction. Dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of everything around us.
We would paddle the perimeter of the lake at mid-day, watching the clouds sweep across the sky, tangling on the tall peaks before they moved on. We would point to boiling pools in the bitter white soil, sulfurous steam curling into amorphous shapes.
I would stand with you at the Yellowstone Grand Canyon, high above an osprey’s nest, and I would hold your hand as we gazed down at the giant, jagged scar of the rift.
If I could take you to Yellowstone, we would follow the trail down to the waterfall. To the place where the tranquil river turns into wild water and rushes over the rocks, falling, tumbling throwing up rainbows as it sweeps away down stream.
We would look out over Artist Point, at the bands of mineral-painted soil lining the sandy walls of the rift. And the wind would tease us, tossing our hair, pulling at our clothing before moving on.
If I could take you to Yellowstone we would gather with the crowd, the way the crowd has gathered for more than 100 years, and wait for the geyser. And we would clap and cheer when Old Faithful erupted, watching until the last arc of foam had fallen.
If I could take you to Yellowstone, we would open our eyes each morning to a place that is like no other on earth. And at night, at the end of the long day, we would fall asleep to dreams of a wild and beautiful landscape.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com