We All Have That Time & That Place

We all have that time and that place.

It was when we went outside and saw for the first time the place that just for the briefest moment actually took our breath away.

For many in Wyoming, it’s the drive down Highway 89 in front of the Tetons as they rise sheer out of the sea of sage brush on a blue-bird afternoon. For others it’s the first big bull elk they saw bugle on an early-morning hunt when breath curled into a white fog and boots crunched on newly-frozen ground.

For me it was Brooks Lake. I was somewhere between old enough to understand and young enough to lose all sense of pretense. I jabbered to my parents, words quickening with every moment. I couldn’t look way from those granite cliffs towering over the glassy lake, protecting the water and the valley floor like a giant mother, her arms outstretched and enveloping, her mere presence producing a calm only a mother can offer.

My breath caught in my throat. My eyes welled.

I made my family return year after year after year for my summer birthday where I ate fruit salad cradled in a carved out watermelon on the lake’s shores. I dreamed of getting married on her banks under those protective arms, if May wasn’t such a formidable time on Togwotee Pass.

But like most of us, adulthood brings a sense of familiarity and a knowledge of life’s complications. Vistas carry concerns of development or invasive species. Wildlife sightings produce nagging worries about habitat.

The magic is still there, but sometimes it’s harder to find. Sometimes we simply drive by it, or spend our precious moments on this planet looking down at screens instead of out.

And then there was Monday.

The total solar eclipse may well have caused Wyoming’s population to triple. Locals from Casper and Riverton and Glendo mingled with visitors from Europe and Asia and South America.

Shortly after 11:40 a.m., everyone stared up as the moon covered the sun.

My breath caught in my throat. My eyes welled.

Cheers erupted from hundreds watching near me in Casper. The magic was undeniable. It reminded us all of just what the natural world can create. It connected us.

And then it left. The moon kept moving and we all returned to where we’d come from – to our houses and apartments in our cities and towns.

As we go back to our jobs and responsibilities, I have two wishes: Don’t forget nature’s power, and let’s cheer for it more often.

-Christine Peterson

Christine PetersonComment