This place will leave an impression.

I’m here in Yellowstone for my second time on a photography trip with David Skernick and a fantastic group of Photo24 photographers.

As we pass the through the entrance to the park, David blasts inside our vehicle a particular cut from “Magnificat” by Bach.  It evokes sublime grandeur in a way that few words, and few photographs, ever could.  The combination of this music, all the anticipation of getting here, the emotions in one’s personal life, and…. YELLOWSTONE!!!....conspires to reduce David to tears, and we are right there with him.

Yellowstone is David’s favorite place on Earth.  It doesn’t matter that he’s never traveled abroad:  Yellowstone is still his favorite place on Earth.

On this trip alone, we are left slack-jawed by our awareness of essentially being on safari in a 70-mile wild caldera that contains half the world’s geysers and seemingly plenty of its wildlife, too; we are graced by bald eagles high up in treetops towering over fish-filled streams; we are serenaded by a lone bold bluebird in an otherwise entirely earth-toned geyser basin; we are witness at close range to a grizzly bear mother caring for and wrangling her three exuberant cubs; and wolves, in the distance.  Always in the distance.

It’s Scarlett I want to tell you about, though.  It’s baby buffalo season in Yellowstone National Park.  On our first day in the Park, one extremely pregnant buffalo stands out from the others for two reasons.  First, she looks like she might give birth….now!  Second, she has a large scar on one side of her torso, leading to the name we’ve given her.

On our second day in the Park, we see Scarlett again a couple miles from where we saw her the first day.  She’s still very pregnant.  (Yes, we are keen observers.)

We don’t see Scarlett at all on the third day.  And we kind of miss her.  Even with all there is to see in Yellowstone National Park, it’s this storyline that’s most compelling to us.  We hope she’s alright.  We assume she’s gone somewhere for a bit of privacy.  We miss her, more.

It’s our fourth day in the Park now, and we’re increasingly aware that it’s unlikely we’ll get to say goodbye to Scarlett before our trip comes to an end.  We’re driving along a main road with a flat basin to our left, and to our right more basin, fringed by groves of trees that become denser forest deeper in.

Suddenly, something we can only describe later as a mirage:  Emerging silently and almost ghost-like from the line of trees, a tiny little baby buffalo with its mother.  And the scar.  It’s there!  And just as suddenly as Scarlett appeared, she and her baby vanished into the trees again.


banner photo by Scott Friedman