Sunday, April 17, 2011

Death and Life in Yellowstone

I finished reading Death in Yellowstone and along with the expected deaths by nature (hot springs, falling rocks, trees, and humans, bison and bear attacks, drowning while fishing, boating, or swimming, poisonous fumes and plants, avalanches, exposure, lightning, etc.), it seemed a little amazing how much death by human there has been here in my little mountain village and the surrounding area--murder and suicide abounds. I went back to my photographs from last year's visits to two of the three cemeteries mentioned in the book and found a couple relevant photos.

The book refers to the grave of a man which is
"marked by the only wooden marker" in the cemetery, but then in an appendix which lists everyone buried there includes a map which shows only some of the names on the list and says the rest were moved to Little Bighorn. Obviously this wooden marker is still there but it's not on the map. So I'm confused, but believe this is the grave of a man killed by a grizzly in 1916.

The boy in the following grave had his throat cut by his mother, who then chased her other three children but they escaped. While being taken to an asylum, she jumped off a train into the Yellowstone River and was never found dead or alive.

I counted 25 bison from my window the other night, some obviously pregnant with the red dogs who will be born in the next couple weeks, and some obviously those born last year. Some of the brown grass is beginning to turn green, but there is still plenty of snow to melt.

Some more sections of the park's roads opened Friday and those who have traveled them report that it's like passing through a white tunnel. Admission to the park is free because it's National Park Week, and between the tourists (already stopping their cars and inviting trouble from the bison who are starting to gain a little energy) and the managers who are having meetings here before spreading out around the park, the quiet days are over here at Mammoth. From now on, it will just keep getting busier until September.

But as more people are trained or return to work in our office, our hours are at least temporarily being reduced. Next week I not only have what has been my standard Monday of six hours, I only work a half day on Friday as well which is more than fine with me. On May 1st we begin taking reservations for the summer of 2012 and I hear the phones will be ringing nonstop all day. That falls on what would normally be a day off for me, but I don't know yet if that is going to hold true.


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