Glacier Lilies

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I’ve heard they’re everywhere in Montana, up in the mountains, during the month of May: blooming through the wide open meadows or spreading across an entire forest floor. For the animals, these flowers are like manna; after a long winter of nearly starving, black bears, mule deer and bumblebees appear and feast on their bright yellow petals, nourish on their rich inner bulbs. Although I have never seen these flowers, I’ve been reading about them now for years. Many times I’ve thought, I’ll put on boots, and hike high up into the mountains, beyond where there are any marked trails. I’ll likely have to pass through mud and ice, not to mention the wind this time of year; and what if I never find a Glacier Lily—? The truth is, my winter has been long and down where I live there are no flowers. And yet I often think of them surviving with long elegant stems and delicate heads. What if I hiked up there and I found one, declaring itself in bold yellow petals, and blooming on the edge of vanishing snow?