The Yellowstone Timberland Reserve encompasses 2.4 million acres of natural luxury. It includes snow clad mountains, meadows, forests, lakes, geysers and the dormant super volcano Caldera. The forest is home to wildlife too- grizzly bears, wolves, bison, tigers, lions and the timid deer, zebras and giraffes. These animals move around in their own habitat suitable to their food requirements and climatic conditions. The animals have their own little hamlets- one such happened to be Yolo’s home.
Yolo was quite an ambitious and daring tiger cub. He had just about completed two years of age; the exhibition of his dare-devil traits did not amuse his mother- Yono, she had a list of Do’s and “Don’ts for him. “Yolo- where are you?” growled mamma tiger. She fretted that Yolo would someday waltz into the neighbouring territory of tiger Congo, who did not like intruders and did not spare tiger cubs either on his lethargic days. “Yolo, why don’t you answer when I call? I told you not to go near the stream; you haven’t learnt to swim yet.”
Yeli, Yolo’s sister, was also 2 years old and was as adventurous as Yolo, but kept her escapades within the bounds stipulated by their mother, in fear of being rewarded with a punishment.
A thunderstorm had cooled the hot and humid day- the siblings were occupied with their indoor games. They shared tales of their solo-achievements and adventures. Yolo often had stories to share- but this time he wanted to discuss a venture he wished to undertake. Yeli almost yelled out to their mother, but Yolo shut her up. “If you don’t want to come along, I’ll not force you, but don’t mess up my plan,”- Yolo frowned in anger, ready to strike again!
The next morning the siblings wandered off to play-“don’t go too far and get back soon,” Yono shouted out knowing that neither of them paid heed to her. Yeli generally played tree-house and perched from there she could see the wide expanse of the meadows, butted by an even denser forest on the other side, a waterfall at a distance, and herds of animals playing and chewing grass.
Yolo’s curiosity for the undiscovered was overwhelming. He went up to the stream and looked around to see what or who could take him to the other side of the stream. Not very far, he saw a baby monkey mounted on a banana trunk, taking a ride down the stream. Yolo made friends with Mono, the baby monkey and agreed for an expedition together.
“I’ve heard there’s a beautiful waterfall out there- we could just follow the stream to reach there,” Mono suggested. They kept moving, when Yolo was asked, “so do you swim well or just manage to float?”
Yolo wondered whether to hide the bitter truth or to surrender-“um....I am yet to learn.”
“What?” Mono was bewildered by Yolo’s stunt attempt. “What will you do if this log sinks or the water current tries to swallow us in?”
” I will cling on to you!”- was the prompt and innocent reply from the cub. It was wee moment of pride for Mono that someone relied on him, but he was sceptical about being able to manage another apart from himself. Mono was reluctant to move any further fearing a mishap.
Yolo was upset- he hadn’t expected that not knowing swimming would be a hindrance to an adventurous journey- he recalled his mother’s concern for not going next to the stream to be away from such accidents. “Could we go somewhere that does not require swimming?”
“Are to able to climb on to trees?”
“Uh- I think so,”- Yolo uttered with low self- confidence. He knew Yeli was adept at tree climbing as she regularly played tree-house and seldom would he join her.
“Well then you would hurt yourself in case a branch breaks or you slip down. I suggest we go down to the meadows and play for a while, Mono advised, realising that Yolo was not skilled enough for an audacious outing. That cheered up Yolo and the friends gladly trotted towards the meadows.
Wow! What a wonderful sight it was- the place looked familiar. Yes, he had heard about it in the stories which Yeli told him. The swift deer were engaged in playing catch, the peaceful zebras were chewing the tall grass and the tall giraffes stooped to see their visitors, the little monkey and the cub; sniffed and passed by. Mono and Yolo exchanged glances in excitement and raced towards the deer and zebras.
Their joy was however, short-lived. Suddenly there was a lurking fear. The herbivores stood calm for a while to understand the direction of the predator. Within a fraction of moment, they sped towards the open pastures, from where they would be able to see the ferocious Congo. Yolo regretted for having disobeyed his mother; would he be able to return home, he was missing Yeli, how he wished his dad would come to their rescue. Mono saw a heap of dead tree trunks at a distance- he signalled Yolo to head towards it.
Yeli perched on her tree-house, noticed the agitation in the meadows, she noticed Congo heading towards its prey and she did locate Yolo and his little monkey friend fleeing. Yeli cried out aloud- Yono on seeing her horrific face jumped to the top of the tree. She yelled out to their dad- Yota to head towards the meadows.
Yono roared and joined in the chase. When they reached the meadows, Congo had already dived in its claws into a deer. Yolo and Mono were petrified now and headed towards the stream trying to avoid attracting the attention of the ferocious Congo. The parents saw the duo from a distance and followed them. Having sensed that they were being followed, the two looked back; Yolo was overjoyed and relieved, but ashamed at the same time. With his head down he stood till his parents reached them. Without any further discussion there, the four of them moved out towards their home; Mono wished his friend good bye, to meet again and promised never to go to the other side of the stream.
Yolo understood for himself how his disobedience had invited danger. How hurt and terror-stricken his parents were. He learnt that before getting into any sport or adventure one must be well-equipped with the art of defending oneself from threats of wild animals and nature. As he apologized to his parents, Yolo promised never to venture out without the knowledge of his parents. Every experience and expedition carries with it a learning- Yolo acknowledged that disobedience led to distress.