As sun returns, so does hopeSAM COOK: One moment, she had been sitting in her office at work, staring at her computer screen, bathed in weak fluorescent light. The walls were institutional gray, which is what her countenance had been when I stopped by.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
One moment, she had been sitting in her office at work, staring at her computer screen, bathed in weak fluorescent light. The walls were institutional gray, which is what her countenance had been when I stopped by.
But within a few moments, her entire being had been transformed. She had begun to tell me about her annual canoe trip with some women friends. The planning had begun, she said. The permits were being secured.
Soon, she was standing up, gesticulating with her arms as she machine-gunned memories from past trips. She was no longer an overworked manager. She was on the trail, paddling against the wind, toting packs over muddy portages. She was flopped out on some shoulder of granite, inhaling the sweet aroma of long-shed pine needles steeping in the sun.
She was poking up some lily-laced stream to nowhere. She was waiting to come around a bend and bump smack into a bull moose in the shallows. Why, she might even have been sipping merlot from a bladder of wine she had babied across the portages.
This is what happens to all of us when the daylight comes creeping back into our psyches in early February. We allow ourselves to start imagining another way of living again.
For a long time at the bottom of the dark barrel of winter in the North, we can’t even go there. It’s too far away, too out of reach. Subconsciously, we know we have to keep our heads down, keep plodding, keep enduring.
Shovel. Hunker. Shuffle. Clump.
We claim we would miss the changing of the seasons if we ever left this place, but in the cloistering funk of deep dark, we wonder. Would we really miss this? We move about like astronauts, all puffy and slow. But we are not in outer space. We move deeper and deeper into inner space, and it isn’t a pretty place.
Then, sometime in late January, as the Earth begins to rock back toward the fire, it happens. It was happening for the woman I work with the other day. Something triggered her, and for several minutes, I think she forgot where she was.
She isn’t alone.
A couple I know is talking about a trip to Hawaii. On a ski trail the other day, one of my buddies started talking about our spring trip to the canoe country for lake trout. In a recent e-mail, a guy from Ohio was talking about his annual smallmouth bass trip out of Crane Lake.
The possibilities are endless. Snorkeling in Belize. Houseboating on Rainy. Walleyes on Winnie. The destination is not critical. What we do when we get there is a matter of individual preference.
What matters now, while the frogs are still buried in mud, is that we have begun to think and dream and plan our escapes again. We check photo galleries online. We lust after a piece of new gear. We are nailing down reservations.
Because we can taste it again. We are emerging from our chrysalises. We are waking up, thinking about shucking our exoskeletons.
You should have seen the woman. She was radiant. She was rhapsodizing. She was alive again.
Sam Cook can be reached at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/samcookoutdoors.