Essays: An Eerie Melody

Written August 1990

by Kenneth Lea Barbalace

After a mighty pounding of the earth, with a measured heartbeat, she awakens. "Giantess," the great monarch of this mystical land, awakens to conduct her symphony orchestra. She, like a seasoned conductor, leads Geyser Hill through an eruptive serenade to the great forces that give them life.

From the pounding earth shoots forth a column of water hundreds of feet in the air. "Old Faithful," out of respect for the Queen, cuts her eruption short, yet no one seems to notice. With the roar of a thousand freight trains, " Giantess" lets all of the basin know who really is the greatest geyser of all the Upper Geyser Basin. "Old Faithful" takes second chair this night, as she is all but forgotten.

Evening turns into a mystical, almost magically eerie night, as wisps of cirrus clouds pass under a full moon. Geyser mist hangs heavy in the air, and strange sounds are all about this quiet night. I am convinced that I am not alone this evening. I share it with a grizzly bear, who is out there somewhere just beyond the tree line. The peaceful security of the basin is no longer. That bear is out there waiting. A coyote cries his lonesome song in the distance. What's that sound? Who's there? The beam of my flashlight cuts through thick geyser mist as I swing it toward the noise. Oh, just a geyser erupting--or was it?

The orchestra continues to play this eerie melody under the direction of the mighty conductor. "Depression" ERUPT! from a quiet pool, water bursts forth, paying its respects to Queen Mother. "Lion" AWAKE! With a mighty roar, "Lion" shoots a stream of water skyward. "Aurum" Erupt! I COMMAND YOU, ERUPT!! With little hesitation water arches across the night sky. For the final homage of the night, and an event only "Giantess" can cause, "VAULT GEYSER" ERUPT! Only yards in front of me from a calm pool of water, a tremendous explosion of steam and water billows forth.

This melody will continue for hours yet to come, but it is late and I am tired. Before I leave, I stop and greet my friend "Little Squirt Geyser." It tries in vain to be heard, but the roar of "Lion," "Vault," and "Giantess" drown it out. That's all right, little one; you're still my favorite. Maybe one day you too will have a sign so all the world will know who you are.

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