The end of September was a quiet time in Yellowstone National Park, and beautiful beyond words. Warm days, cold nights, golden aspen mixed among the dark ridges of pine.
Even though it is a national park with complicated and historically shifting meanings, Yellowstone is many other places as well.
Visitors who delight in nature and stunning scenery at places like Acadia National Park often do not realize their aesthetic debt to Protestant reformer and theologian John Calvin.
Acadia National Park has become infested with an epidemic of automobiles, but many visitors escape the traffic on the refurbished carriage roads where they can enjoy the park by equine-powered carriages, on foot or bicycle.
An ancient pictograph in a place called Tsegi, what is now Canyon de Chelly National Monument, shows people chasing animals over a hill or maybe a rainbow.
America has long been confused about whether nature is for us to adore and enjoy, or for us to profit from. This confusion has been painfully clear in our divisive attitudes toward national parks.
Cars have been both a blessing and a curse for national parks. They are how most of us get to the places we love, but they also hurt the places we love.
National parks and the entire history of American environmentalism originate in the same traditions that produced much of evangelical Christianity in America.
Acadia National Park offers unique attractions that have made it a premier destination, and, despite my initial ambivalence, I am glad to have gone there. It is a treasure not to be missed.
Spider rock stands as a two-headed spire that rests motionless on its ancient pedestal, like petrified arms stretching upward toward the canyon’s rim. Inside Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Nation, the lithic monument figures into Diné mythic history. ♨
Review of Permanent Vacation: Twenty Writers on Work and Life in Our National Parks, edited by Kim Wyatt (Bona Fide Books, 2011), an assortment of short recollections by writers who lived and worked in national parks. Sometimes adventurous, even frightening, often poetic, this collection offers intimate views rarely experienced by the millions who enjoy American national parks each year. ♨
San Antonio’s Spanish colonial missions attract local residents, tourists, and others. As the Alamo City approaches its tri-centennial celebration, this may be an apt time for some collective reflection on the importance and value of the historic missions. New possibilities are in the making in this place once called Yanaguana, a place that has become a busy modern city in an uncertain world. ♨