Ranger Kathryn's Arches

February 7, 2011

In which I am offered the internship

Turret Arch, photographed through North Window. Better than any cubicle.

My phone rang as I was pulling into the Trader Joe’s parking lot; the 435 area code told me that it was rural Utah. I took a deep breath and calmed myself. It had been all of eight hours since I had applied — a contemplative, prayerful eight hours.

In the subsequent twenty minutes I was offered, and I accepted, the raptor monitor internship at Arches National Park. It would be a season of becoming intimately familiar with a small portion of the Colorado Plateau and its avian residents. A new skill set would be required of me, distinctive from that of interpretive park ranger. In my head I heard the familiar words of my dear dad: “Not better, not worse, just different.”

I unfolded the park map on the seat next to me, slowly perusing its 119 square miles as I spoke with Tricia. “Kathryn, before your season is done, you will have hiked most of what you see on the map, ” she informed me. My heart leaped. 76,000 acres of mostly wilderness would be my office. Its lizards, insects, snakes, jackrabbits, spiders, scorpions, and large mammals would be my sweet companions. The desert plants, in all their spring glory, would be a visual feast when I wasn’t peering through binoculars at the birds I’d be studying. What an utter privilege to have been selected.

I floated into Trader Joe’s, humbled, grateful, thinking of Psalm 21: “You have granted her the desire of her heart and have not withheld the request of her lips.” I headed straight for the dark chocolate pomegranate seeds — such a fitting celebratory purchase.

It was a two-box day.

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