I think what makes the sweeping landscapes of the west the most compelling is that moment when you walk down the winding path from the scenic overlook into the heart of the rugged hills—and find that the valleys are teeming with life.
You find that the lonely plains are not so very lonely after all, but bursting instead with the spring trills of meadowlarks on fence posts and the clucking of brilliant shy pheasants. A coyote comes out of nowhere, and a prairie dog town bursts into whistles of warning as the sentinels stand motionless, upright and vigilant at the entrances to their burrows. A pompous tom turkey proudly fans his splendid tail out, dragging wings dramatically along the ground. A big-eared mule doe lifts her head, whisking her flag tail nervously at the sight of us. Is there a tiny fawn hiding in that thicket behind her?Wild mares sniff the air cautiously while tiny colts rest peacefully amidst the sage brush. Along a bare windswept ridge, a herd of bison move as one together. One gaunt cow grazes greedily without looking up, as her wee calf wobbles along in front of her, still a little unsteady on his feet.And on and on it went.
Needless to say, we were in awe at the incredible beauty and variety in this world of animals so different from those native to our own neighborhood. In fact, we saw such an amazing assortment of wildlife in such a short period of time, it kind of felt like some grand orchestral rendition of “All Creatures of Our God and King” should have been playing as the soundtrack of our trip—or at least this Psalm:
“Praise the Lord from the earth, ye…beasts, and all cattle; creeping things and flying fowl…Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.” (Psalm 148:7, 10, 13)
And just imagine—someday we’re actually going to hear these creatures, along with thousands of others, voice their praise to their Creator:
“And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:13)
The thought of that absolutely gives me goosebumps.