Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Winter in Glacier National Park
I've seen Glacier National Park in the summertime. When the sky is so blue you could swim in it and the forest is lush and green.
I've been there in the fall. When the natural world is at its busiest, preparing for the long winter to come. One September night in East Glacier a mountain lion and her two cubs crossed the road in front of us. The lioness stopped to give us a long look, her babies peeking around her, before disappearing into the trees beside the road.
In the winter, the air is sweet and clean and the blanket of snow softens the rugged landscape. There is a quiet that settles on the park and once you step into it it feeds you, like a vitamin you didn't know you needed.
I drove through West Glacier recently, skirting the shores of Lake McDonald. The mirrored surface of the lake reflected the snowy peaks of the mountains and threw back images of the blue sky breaking through the clouds. Even the bare trees, a stark reminder of the fire that swept through the park in 2003, were somehow beautiful.
I was so moved by my time in the park that I drove back to Glacier National Park the following weekend, bringing my husband and two of my daughters along.
Social scientists say one critical element of true happiness is the bond of a shared experience. Perhaps this is why I had to return. And to bring my loved ones with me. I needed to share what I'd seen and felt. To know they had a chance to experience the same wonder. And, they did.
We drove home under the spell of the ancient landscape. Permanently changed.