As Josh The Pilot and I dodged the bison in Yellowstone, we managed to swing into the parking lot of Old Faithful before darkness fell across the land. We sat patiently in the rain and the cold as our umbrella considered its life’s purpose inside the rental car.
I was absolutely furious at the weather– not about it, mind you, but at it; I’ve tromped around more than one mountain in my GenX existence, and in July, one brings a jacket to wear in the morning and evenings, because one will experience a chill in the pre-dawn and post-sunset hours.
One might not expect, however, 40 degrees at lunchtime. That is what happened, in the middle of summer, in Yellowstone. The guidebook lied; the National Park Service temperature forecast lied; the ten-day forecast lied; everybody and every thing lied, lied, lied– but, I figured, we could depend on this natural landmark that’s been known to humanity for the past century or so to Be Nature at the exact point we were told it would Be Nature.
It was not. Old Faithful also lied; the ten minute window for its potential eruption came and went, and we grew tired even of casting pitying glances of the parents next to us trying to convince their two preschoolers that the giant water event would happen any second now, and perhaps even more quickly if it sensed they had stopped whining.
It happened over 20 minutes past the window the rangers posted; several times we saw steam and small cascades of water near the center of the cone everyone else seemed to be staring at; this always amounted to nothing, and even the birds who’d bailed out of the area at eruption time began to look cynical. The steadfast social media mavens continued to aim their phones at the cauldron, because what was another 15 minutes of video featuring the backs of heads.
We had but a tiny window to catch dinner. The hotel was an hour away. It was pouring. A short but intense discussion took place, all of which was driven by the fact that I was cold, which has long since in our marriage functioned as an unacceptable status quo. I would have been a terrible Old West explorer and turned around at the first lost wagon wheel and I’m perfectly fine with that.
So Josh and I began making our way back to the parking lot and our ineffectual umbrella, and it was at this point that Old Faithful at last decided to express itself.
As it happened, we were standing exactly in the center of the landscape, in a far better position to watch the water from the ground join the water of the sky than we had been earlier. It was a long eruption, one that dared to further encroach upon our driving time, but the thing finally got over itself and we took refuge in the Visitor’s Center, where the rangers, with zero sense of compunction, were posting the times for the next eruption.
Meanwhile, in some bison-free part of the country, the Reds were losing, which was also probably the fault of the whenever-I-feel-like-it water event. Half an hour in the pouring rain for 33 years; waiting is difficult, especially if we don’t know if we’ll ever see any payoff.
Nature’s Bellagio had dared to interfere with the timings we humans were attempting to place on it, and it served us right. In our attempts to corral 8,400 gallons of boiling water to our schedule, we doomed ourselves to frustration. Sometimes the rookie doesn’t perform when he’s called. Other times he smacks a home run in his first MLB game because such a thing seems easy.
Either way, there’s no messing with the timing of the planet. We can buy, sell, trade, rehab, and shuffle all we want, but if we try to rush the show, we might just end up missing the whole thing.