Reading the NY Times this am as the snowflakes continued to fall, I came across an interesting editorial entitled “You Think Your Winter Was Rough?” The writer, Nicholas Kristof, is a globe-trotter, peace-maker, do-gooder…you get the picture. I often read his column to lift my spirits because he mostly writes about his uplifting interactions with people around the world.
In this column he shared the conversation he’d had with “two young Americans set off on the most daring and foolhardy wilderness expedition since, oh, maybe Lewis and Clark.” (Listen up social studies/history teachers. This piece of writing would make for good close reading and a comparison someone else’s expedition…say Shackleton.” Those of us who read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, or saw the movie (a rare example of the movie being almost as good as the book), know that hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is a major accomplishment both emotionally and physically in summer. But doing it in winter does seem, well, crazy!
Having lived through such predictable challenges as snow-blinding blizzards, staying up all night to keep the snow off their tent to prevent it from collapsing, and getting frostbite from hiking through a blizzard, you would think they would retell their story focusing on their near-death experiences. While they did mention them, what came through in the conversation was their absolute addiction to the beauty and challenges of nature. Both had hiked the trail in summer, but both were eager to see it in another season. “With the snow there’s so much natural beauty…It’s so peaceful. And the frozen rivers have these strange ice formations,” explained one of the hikers.
As we struggle through this never ending winter, let’s try to appreciate the savage beauty of winter and those who rise heroically to its challenges. My daughter and I took a walk recently in our local park and were rewarded with two sightings of ducks that can only be seen locally in winter: the Ring-Necked Duck and the Hooded Merganser. A swan waddled awkwardly across the snow-covered pond…white on white. We had the whole park to ourselves. Not exactly the Pacific Crest Trail, but we were happy. As I sit in my cozy living room with a crackling fire in the fireplace and look outside at this suburban winter wonderland, I am thankful for all the seasons.