The trip home was stop and go, so much to see, records placed through my camera. I stopped next to the Yellowstone River several times, reflections you know, pretty, a mirror of the real, or the illusion of. I watch down the road as a dozen cars stopped to view something, sound of brakes, doors opening shutting, voices.... I hear an Elk bugle nearby, so I close my car door and vanish into the woods across the road.
There is a trail, many well traveled, the animals have been active. I see the bull, but he is far away. I turn to go back, hear the opening, closing doors, and the acceleration of auto power, soon the area is quiet, calm, I have the place to myself. Then the guttural, low bellow whistle, the Elk are near, I decide to follow the sound, to my left over the small hump, I move quickly, making noise as if I am a Bull, full of excitement, sweat soon forms on my brow, I reach the other side in the trees, drop down the other side, north slope, wet in moss, I pause panting, listen for the next bellow. Sharp is the note, the pitch is heavenly high, grunts follow to my left, then another to my right just beyond the open grass, the light is yellow cast, late slanted, the tree vibrate at the shadow line, hard sharp antlers clash, I remember the sound from childhood, playing with antlers we did, pretending to be the marvel. I climb to the sound, peering around a large broken pine body, fallen, stretched full length, my friend to shield me from the Elks view. Two panting, pause, turn and display their massive horns to each other, mineís bigger than yours, such speed, heavy heads drop, engaging, pushing, the sound of scraping horns. The light is gone, they move to the dark woods, I sit still, listen, the forest is active, many grunts, pitching notes back and forth, I count six, seven. I feel tired as one chases the other away, I turn, leave the woods, open my door,sit, shut my door , then start my engine, accelerate away, down the paved path.
Oh my god! It is 9:00 P.M. cars backed up, canít see the problem? So black is the evening! Ahead twenty-car move slowly in the dark, brake lights blind my view. Dotted reds like Christmas lights meander through the tall still trees. What the HELL! I am tired impatient! I search for a radio station, music would be good, nothing, I put the radio on search, disappointed.
Bison are moving to winter ground, many crowd the road, they have taken back their land, confiscated the treasured path. I am thoughtful! I am soon amongst them, stink they do, the smell is bad, worse then cattle, I canít imagine how! A big bull pulls up next to me, his eye is determined, what of it buddy, you got a problem; want to make something of it? I cower in my seat; boy do I need to pee! I think his head is as broad as the width of my car, I move slower. I know the road, I know the land, maybe two more miles they will leave the road, it is almost 10:00 p.m. The car ahead is white, Cadillac, California plates, he has never been in a cattle drive, timid, afraid his car might get violated, my patients is running thin, an opening, I dart to the left, hang my arm free out side, bang on the side of the car, ah they understand noise, the big bodies move quicker, dark forms in the night, so many small butts with big heads, bob in the headlights, rhythmic, soon gallop, I am in a stampede, wild eyes begin to raise, white glaze, what have I done? I feel the power around my little car, I feel silly and frighten! Suddenly the road opens, blacker than the sky, the butt forms fall to the side, the rush is gone, silent, pavement smooth, tires hum, music, Bach perhaps, a whimsical tale, violins permeate my space. I need to pee and I feel happy, who can say they have been in a stampede.