Sunday, November 17, 2013

Winter Falls

    The simple act of learning is all about exposure.  Exposure to music, to books - to life.  As a parent I feel my primary obligation is to give my children a taste for all that is good in life.  To show them the rewards that life has to offer those who seek its mysteries and treasures, and get outside their comfort zones to explore undiscovered parts of themselves that are locked away, knocking, waiting to get out and play. 

Today I went skiing for the fourth time this week.  I can take two steps out the front door and snap on my skis and ski for miles.    I am learning how to ski, after years of limping along “sort of” skiing, falling and cursing gravity.  Yesterday when I finished my sunset ski, I came in the house exhilarated and declared that I enjoyed my ski almost as much as I enjoy a good run.  Then I proceeded to look up every decent beginners “how to nordic ski” video I could find and take copious notes.
     Today I declared that I love skiing as much as I love running, and trust me, I am more surprised than you can imagine.  I am generally speed averse and overly cautious.  This spring I bought my first road bike and every time I get on it, I still feel kind of nervous, because on that bike I can fly.  Up until this year I wasn’t sure I was ready to fly.  Now here it is November and I’m flying.

I headed out into the windy afternoon, clear skies, 0 F and prepared to be cold, windblown, and feel slightly in over my head.  

     Within 5 minutes I realized: 

1. I over dressed 
2. I hardly noticed the cold 
3. Everything about the wild out our back door is AMAZING.  

     After an hour and fifteen minutes of practicing “running” up hills on skis, herringboning my way to the top of the steeper climbs, and tucking nose over toes and using my weight to properly steer I started to feel like I had just found a new sport to love.  By the time I came  back into the warm, cozy little log cabin we have out here in the big woods of Wrangell-St. Elias, I was in the best possible mood and in love with everything about life.  I relayed my adventure excitedly to Parke and told him of the caribou, moose, coyote, rabbit, squirrel, and bird tracks I came across on the short half mile section of trail I warmed up on, before I took on the hills.  Then I sat down and savored every sip of hot chocolate that passed through my lips.  Exploring the marriage of chocolaty richness and cream.  Perfect harmony.  

     A short time later we watched the sunset against a clear blue backdrop with the profile of the mountains standing tall before the sky.   A perfect outline of Mt. Sanford, Mt. Drum, Tanada Peak, and all the other mountains that sit out our back door, that I do not yet know the names to, stood strong up against the vast wild landscape.  

    The sun fell quickly along the horizon skirting the edge of the mountains in a smooth, swift side step until it sunk behind the mountains, touching down at 3:43 pm.  We had a family tea party and sipped away at a pot of rooibos tea, red and glowing in the deep golden rays rays of sunlight, falling across the landscape before disappearing into the night.
Living here makes you realize how vulnerable you are.  At the mercy of the elements.  Having to prepare for the unexpected before you set foot out the door. This whole experience has reaffirmed all of the childhood teachings my parents provided by taking me out into the woods as a young child.  It is a delicate balance of being adventurous and prepared, exploring and getting lost.  

      Every day I have an opportunity to step out my front door and try something different, something new, and it often means trying something that scares me a little.  Having kids has made all the difference.  Before children (B.C.) I saw no reason to step out of my comfort zone and do something I had always wanted to do deep down, but never made the time to do, was too afraid to try, or simply too lazy to make it happen.  Moving somewhere surrounded in so much wilderness, without the distraction of stores, hoards of people, and noise make it easy to slip into adventures and find the time to do the things that are begging to be done.  Every day I get to quench my growing thirst for adventure and I am able to satisfy the need to explore the undiscovered parts of myself that have been waiting to be let loose in the wild.   
The Forecast:  

B-52s: Roam

I hear a wind
Whistling air
Whispering in my ear

Boy Mercury shooting through every degree
Oh girl dancing down those dirty and dusty trails
Take it hip to hip rocket through the wilderness
Around the world the trip begins with a kiss

Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without wings, without wheels
Roam if you want to
Without anything but the love we feel

Skip the air-strip for the sunset
Ride the arrow for the target---One
Take it hip to hip rock it through the wilderness
Around the world the trip begins with a kiss
Fly the great big sky
See the great big sea
Kick through continents
Busting boundaries
Take it hip to hip rocket through the wilderness
Around the world the trip begins with a kiss
Take it hip to hip
Rocket through the wilderness

"How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age.  Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child's personality. A child is resentful, negative -- or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people." - Sir John Templeteon