Nature-Lovers, Let’s Learn a New Word: Yugen
I was pleased to see a recent Expedia story that indicated Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country is the best place in the great state of Wyoming for a nature-lovers. The article cited Yellowstone Country’s “horse trails, camping, biking and rock climbing” that are within easy reach of Cody as well nearby Yellowstone, “bursting with natural wonders, from Old Faithful geyser to Yellowstone Lake.”
If you live in Cody or have visited for even a few days, you know this. If you visit the Yellowstone’s Upper Geyser Basin late on a winter night when there is no one else there except for a lumbering bison illuminated by stars and crunching through the crusty snow in the woods, you know this.
If you join a small-group trail ride along the North Fork of the Shoshone River and spot a moose and calf in the brush on the south side of the riverbank, you know this.
You also know this if you and your friends backpack to a special spot on the South Fork of the Shoshone River under the rugged outline of the Absaroka peaks and then hike the next day to a wilderness valley with views of deep lava gorges and lush meadows. And then you take a deep breath and inhale the scent of wild sage.
As I mentally scroll through these and other memories of wilderness moments in Yellowstone Country, however, I think that “nature-lover” is too pedestrian to describe what I feel when I hear a wolf howl at the very moment the sun rises or spot an eagle flying over the Buffalo Bill Reservoir at dusk at the very moment a slight breeze pushes the water around in crazy asymmetrical patterns and a small herd of deer wanders toward me, aware but unconcerned about my presence.
Yes, I’m certainly a nature-lover, but it’s more than that. Like breathing, eating and exercising, I need to be in nature often just to live. To find balance and purpose. To feel whole. No, “nature-lover” isn’t quite right.
Thank goodness for Google. The Japanese word “yugen” means that sometimes nature is so profound that “the emotions we feel when we try to contemplate it are too deep and mysterious to convey.” Yes, that’s it. Or at least closer.
Until next time, I’m loving life – and many moments of yugen – here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.