It was late afternoon as we traveled the causeway toward the island, noting places we wanted to photograph on the way back. Shadows were long and the vista was longer. The Great Salt Lake stretched to the horizon, framed by the smoky purplish hills of the island and the lowering sun. We saw only two or three cars while we crossed the causeway, but as we approached the island itself, we noticed a few parked at the base of the hill heading onto the island. In a small bit of snowy grass surrounded by the icy blue lake, the concrete causeway, and the island itself, stood a large bison.
We parked in a small lot on the opposite side of the causeway, and while I grabbed my camera, my daughter beat me to the other side and had already taken several photos with her phone. I focused and fiddled with my camera settings and prepared to capture this serendipitous moment.
I looked through the viewfinder to see the bison fix his large brown eyes on us and start moving slowly our way.
My daughter, on the other hand, kept taking pictures. I told her again that we ought to return to the car. She said we had nothing to worry about—look how far away the bison was! My mind swirled with news reports of large animal attacks. Mother’s instinct failed me as I kicked into flight mode and began walking across the causeway to the parking lot. In the middle of the road, I turned and snapped two shots of my daughter still watching the bison.
How had I raised a young woman with this kind of courage? I contrasted our reactions. I am ashamed that fear overcame my core protective instincts and mother-love, that I am not more flexible in body and spirit. I realize her youth and relative inexperience give her boldness. I recall that she attended a university across the country from us, wandered Paris alone during her study abroad, lived on the south side of Chicago for eighteen months as a church missionary, and returned to the east coast to work. She had made friends with gang members, southern belles, college professors, and Hispanic immigrants. She had practiced choosing courage.
I am beginning to consciously grow my courage. I am venturing out of my comfort zone currently, as I learn to nourish my body and soul, as I cultivate lifelong interests into talents.