One day last week, I read in my Bible: Look at the ravens—they don’t plant or harvest or have barns to store away their food, and yet, they get along all right—for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to Him that any birds! (Luke 12:24, Living Bible) I thought of the raven I photographed perched on someone’s motorcycle baggage at Norris Basin in Yellowstone National Park. That big shiny black bird worked the zippers on the bags. I’m not sure that is how God intended to feed him, but he knew how to get to the snacks inside!
Simply reflecting on the excitement of capturing that bird up close on a warm late summer day made me realize how I am still suspended between two worlds, the very different world of Yellowstone—and home. Despite the distance of four days of driving time, I have not truly transitioned from Wyoming to Arkansas. I’m thankful—yes, glad—to be back on my corner of the world in the Ozarks. Yet, Yellowstone lingers; I think it always will. I feel almost surreal that only a few weeks ago, I was walking on that soil—the fragile crust that covers steaming pots, boiling pools, and geysers spouting hot water from only a few feet beneath the earth’s surface. I can still smell the sulphur from mud pots and the fragrance of firs, mixing in a perfume that identifies Yellowstone. I look at our photos of clear running rivers, racing waterfalls, Old Faithful erupting, and tips of lodgepole pines brushing against a bright blue sky. I see bison ambling across a roadway, a Mama Bear foraging while two cubs scurried up and down skinny aspens, and two elk clashing their antlers in rut, but then backing off to graze. Yes, it’s dreamlike that I stood by rapid rivers snapping photos of bison grazing among bright yellow flowers and a family of otters splashing in the water cold from snowmelt.
For four summer months, we tramped that Yellowstone soil, climbed her mountains, and hiked through forests and meadows—always with bear spray strapped to our waistbands. And now, I’m back in the Ozarks—home. I walked down the Main Street of our hometown, holding the five-year-old hand of my great-grandson. We looked at scarecrows decorating the storefronts. I sat on an old bench in the same barber shop where my grandfather once cut the hair and shaved the faces of townsmen and watched a young barber trim Timothy’s hair.
At a birthday party for a cousin’s three-year-old, I hugged all of my great-grandchildren and little cousins. I clapped and laughed aloud with my family at a parade on a bright October day. On Sunday mornings, I sit in my familiar church pew and sing praises with my church family. I walk through our home and touch the books on my shelves and the keys on my piano. I am caught up in thankfulness when I see the autumn sun illuminating the yellow and burgundy colors of chrysanthemums in the backyard I’ve claimed for 55 years. And even before I made my home on this lot at Ninth and Quitman Streets, I played on the red clay dirt–then overgrown with briars and weeds. I ran in and out of my friend’s house next door as though it was my own home. I rode my bicycle—even roller skated—on neighborhood streets around my parent’s home, only two blocks from where I raised my three children in this house I’ve called home for over five decades. Strange, amazing, and awesome that I can be tethered to such a place, yet travel to other pieces of the earth to touch down and breathe in the beauty and diversity. But like a homing pigeon, I return to my home base—my roots. The world is vast, so breathtaking, and so beyond my understanding—like my God who created it all and cares about me and the raven trying to break open a backpack on a parking lot in Yellowstone National Park.
Traveling in their motorhome several months each year, Arline and her photographer husband, Lee Smith, make their permanent home in Heber Springs, Arkansas. She currently is a presenter for Workamper Rendezvous, sponsored by Workamper News. Arline has dozens of magazine articles published, as well as five books: “Road Work: The Ultimate RVing Adventure” (now available on Kindle); “Road Work II: The RVer’s Ultimate Income Resource Guide”; “Truly Zula; When Heads & Hearts Collide”; and “The Heart of Branson”, a history of the families who started the entertainment town and those who sustain it today. Visit Arline’s personal blog at ArlineChandler.Blogspot.com