Elk’s Paradise

Elk's Paradise

The spring morning was cool and calm, and the day ahead held considerable promise. The previous days had seen a little rain, and the forest was a little brighter, a little greener, and definitely more vibrant than normal. The snow-capped mountains reached for the rising sun, eager to shed their winter’s burden while high above them the clouds lazily drifted by, indifferent to the mountains or anything else below. The elk simply stood there, at ease, gazing out over her paradise. It was going to be a very good day.

This tableau happened in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, where both human and elk consider it a paradise. There is something deeply profound about sharing such a moment as this with nature; I was there, with the elk, enjoying the moment. Elk and human, while not side by side, stood there together looking out at the glorious, perfect morning, each lost in their own thoughts. It seemed to me that this moment lasted an eternity, and I am glad that it did, for I wanted to soak up every little detail, because I know that I will remember it forever.

Frankly, these are the moments that I live for. I had been keeping a watchful eye on this elk since well before sunrise, almost an hour before I made this photograph. She had seen me, and I kept my distance, which is very wise around elk. As peaceful as they are, they have a mind of their own, and they are quite a bit bigger than you are, not to mention quite a bit faster, too. Still, as the morning progressed, she had relaxed about me, and went about her business, while I went about mine. As she would move to another area, I would casually move along with her, which is of itself an amazing experience. This delicate dance continued, and always–always–I kept my distance. The conventional wisdom is that if an elk looks at you, you are too close, and it is an exceptionally good rule to follow. We drifted through the forest, then, together, until, at exactly the right time, with exactly the right background, she stepped out into the clearing. “This is paradise,” I thought to myself, and I knew at that instant that this photograph was going to be something special.

Eventually, the moment passed and it was time for us to part ways; we did so, each acknowledging that this moment in paradise was extraordinary. It was going to be a very good day.

Own your own paradise

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