Mesmerzied by the sweep of so many colossal wonders, visitors to Yosemite often lose sight of the little things, some of which can be as pleasurable as the famous landmarks themselves. I've had the chance to pass many a 15-minute break from my job at Yosemite Lodge meandering around the field on the south side of this suburban confluence. As it happens, most tourists never even set foot in the vibrant little ecosystem beating just a few yards away.
But maybe that's just as well.  Often I have the place all to myself.   A few bikers cruising by.  Guests staying at the lodge out for a an afternoon stroll.  And the rare visit by a black bear, like the one I saw a few weeks back foraging for grubs.  Most days I spend the time sniffing wildflowers, sampling the berries, basking in the sunlight, or undertaking a short jog down the dirt service road (in full uniform, no less). It's also not a bad spot on a sandy beach by the river's edge. A dirt trail heads right to it from the bike path. See Post #5 Bike Trek.
And then there's the doe and her two little ones.  The lodge meadow and woods evidently provides plenty of pickings and safe passage for Mule deer, because I see these three just about every day.  On one occasion they got nearly surrounded by a horde of tourists, but mom adroitly manuevered her way out of the mess, jumping into a tangle of brush behind one of the apartments, where no one could follow.  The fawns fell in line and that was the end of that photo opportunity.
But getting back to stationary objects, the colors and scents, shapes and shadows of the meadow and nearby woods exude an energy that in my mind rivals any granite slab or plummeting waterfall.  Like an invigorating plunge into the icy Merced, these various stimuli meld into an equally satisfying (albeit less jarring) rush of sensation.
One of my co-workers remarked about our jobs the other night, "Just shoot me now."   That made me laugh for the first time in a long while. You see, even in national parks one can get pretty grumpy and depressed if they're not careful.


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Of course, I'm not the only freeloader gobbling up the plunder in this bountiful garden.  Chipmunks, squirrels and field mice, Stellar's jays, robins and ravens - one is never really alone, even when the human presence comes up short.  One day I stumbled across a ranger marveling at the number of bees swarming a raspberry bush.  We agreed, Colony Collapse Disorder is not a problem in Yosemite Valley.
Secret Places: The Lodge Meadow and Woods
Yosemite Trekker          Post #13 -- 9/11/09
Incredibly, if you follow that same dirt service road that winds around the meadow, you'll glimpse several out-buildings and a construction storage site.  It took a few days for me to figure out that the red lights and all the handles on the doors pertained to sanitation and sewage processing.  Before the flood in 1997, this area was much more heavily utilized for park services.  After the water from that deluge finally receded, the rangers decided just to leave the area alone.  Like the fen, the lodge meadow is slowly returning to its pristine state of old.
Doe and fawns pass a lazy summer day-- 7/18/09.
Anyway, my fifteen minutes of exploring the hinterlands of the lodge are about up.  Time to leave behind that couple on the beach savoring a private moment (or so they think).  A girl and her mother breeze down the asphalt on their spokes and rubber, bound for points unknown. The deer wander off into their own dimension, while the chipmunk dives down into his burrow, refusing to come back up and bow to my long-lingering lens.  It's hot today, and for me there are still miles to go before I sleep -- or rather, hours to grind through before the shift ends.