Over looking the Colorado River in Washington State stands a monument. ‘Grandfather cuts loose the ponies’ is its title. I climbed up to take a look, as I passed by. Frozen moments of freedom bolted to the hillside. The last line of the legend upon which the statue is based says, ‘Let us live to inspire each other’. I looked forward to meeting its writer.
Yet I did not meet the writer in Montana ‘land of the big sky’. I saw inspiration of another kind, left in the evidence of half hewn hills. Gold maybe or some other precious mineral had inspired this monument perhaps?
In Yellowstone an early morning walk was halted briefly, while a tingle of fear and excitement rushed through the blood, as two bears scampered up to the crest of a hill. The bears turned and looked at us for a few brief moments, before dropping of the back of the hill. We heard the cracks that signalled their move further into the forest. Bison, elk, beaver, deer and even a herd of longhorn sheep were seen. Yet the writer was never visible.
Surely in Jackson, gateway to the Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, a cowboy town I would meet them? Cowboys and Indians don’t they go together? The shops proudly displayed their pattern, their colour, their designs, their craftsmanship, but nothing more. This is for the tourists I was told.
Yellowstone had a hotel named after a tribe that once lived in the valley. Awaneechee. The board in the tourist centre explained that during the nineteenth century they had been removed. Something sits uneasy in this place. I felt like a child, who grows up in a family hiding secrets. Things half said, but the true depth left unmeasured and uncertain.
I never did find the writer in person, and I pondered that it is perhaps easier to destroy that which would inspire us too much.