“Something has spoken to me in the night...and told me that I shall die, I know not where. Saying: "[Death is] to lose the earth you know for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.” I always wondered if he was a werewolf too but with the name Thomas Wolfe, it would be too conspicuous.
My transformation is the death of my human form and the rebirth into a werewolf who is of the land. I move through the forest to a patch of snow. Ice to cool the fire. The fire signifies the beginning of the change the full moon calls forth. The transformation starts deep within every bone, radiates outward along every nerve and in every molecule.
I convulse as the fire of pain passes from my soul to my skin; I die. I writhe in the snow and its coolness is another kind of fire, indiscernible from the burning tearing through me in a flash. My bones crack and knit. I stand on four paws; I die. I shake my burning flesh and skin falls away like the shedding of a fiery encasement. I died and I am reborn. A howl from my primal core says I am a greater being than my human self through the fiery flesh and the bone wrenching change. Transformation. The snow has melted beneath me. I smell spring grass.
My senses are greater, my desires are greater, my love of the land and its rugged wilderness is fierce. The full moon rose and called me to my werewolf form. I smell a faint whiff of a spring grizzly bear who emerged too early from his winter den. I listen and hope to hear my Yellowstone wolf pack beckon me to run with them. Every sense is awake. I start a silent run through the forest. My paws a tattoo against the earth in time with my heartbeat. Perked ears are sensitive to every sound. I listen for the howl of the alpha male.
Running across an open field, there are patches of snow and the hint of bright green grass emerging from winter. As a predator, I do not hide along the edges. I dare the night to see me. I am at full speed when I hear him calling me, telling me his location and the location of the pack. Within minutes, I am greeted by my family. They lick my muzzle, checking my scent for change, welcoming me and acknowledging my rank as an alpha female.
A month has passed since I have seen them. I expect a little play, some rough-housing, the typical greeting of old friends amongst my pack, but our alpha is overly alert and tense. He growls at our play, nips at our heels, and offers a reproachful bark. We stop. He listens, his head cocked at an angle. He has our attention and I tune into my senses, alert for the strange or unusual disturbances in the night. The night keeps its secrets from me.
Without warning, the alpha takes off running at full speed toward Yellowstone National Park. The pack and I follow.
I enjoy the run, bounding over fallen logs, veering around large boulders, and climbing steep hills with ease. I am in sync with the pack. Our hearts beat out the ancient song of the land’s connection to our wildness. Our motions are in harmony with the trees, the wind, the hills, and the mountains beyond. The Earth is beautiful, and I am a part of its rhythm. More a part of the land than I am a part of anything in my human form. I am home and I am free.
The Alpha stops at a stream well within the borders of Yellowstone. He paces along the stream smelling the river’s edge. We watch his movements. He quickly crosses the river to the bank on the other side and smells that edge of the river. He lays down and the pack crosses the river.
The river is barely less than ice, cools my paws. I prance through quickly and turn at the edge and lap up the water. Nothing tastes as good as this. I look up and see the two lesser males play-fight with the river slowly flowing downstream. The females have lain down with their backs to a stone. I circle around the Alpha. He huffs at my presence but then puts down his head and closes his eyes. I lay next to him. Resting in wolf form has never been easy. The fire of transformation is always close and still burns within every molecule.
I am not the only one not resting at ease. The alpha opens his eyes and though his head remains down on his extended front paws, his ears are twitching, alert and aware. His eyes watchful, and I wish he could tell me what I have missed this past month. The wind blows the clouds overhead, and the moonlight glints silver off the tips of the fur on his back. We watch the pack our surroundings together. Two sentinels. Ready.