The snow shines brightly under the cloudless sky. My eye’s squint and water just from looking out my window. It’s not too cold out either. Maybe 20 degrees with a light breeze coming out of the Northwest. It’ll be a great day for a gathering walk. I already have my travel cup warming up for the outing. I love these double insulated, plastic cups. They keep my coffee long enough for a quick drink and don’t cling to your lips like the old metal ones do. I don’t know why they sell those stupid metal ones here anyway. Every time I see a tourist with one my mind keeps replaying the tongue on the pole scene from A Christmas Story. Ugh!
Luckily for me, I don’t have to deal with that crap. I wised up and live twenty miles from the nearest town. Yeah that can be a pain sometimes, but oh the benefits of it all.
No noise. No traffic. No stupid rules and regulations strangling you from all corners. Freedom. Pure and simple. My heart warms just thinking about it. People in the “civilized world” might wax poetic about their Chinese takeout and Starbucks Latte, but I was never one for Chinese food and my home-brew is better than anything Starbucks can dream of. Speaking of which. It’s ready to go.
It took me a few minutes, but now I’m ready to go as well. Got my parka on (Thank God for Thinsulate), pack’s all set, and I am out the door.
Everything’s different when you live in the bush. You have to go prepared. There’s no 911 out here. No ambulances to pick you up when you’re hurt. No hospital within an hour’s drive. (Hell, where I’m at, there ain’t no road!) It’s all on you to see that you make it home. That’s why the pack. It’s got enough stuff in it to keep me safe and warm if something should happen along the way.
But enough of that, It’s time for the walk.
I love a good “gathering walk” this time of year. The bears are asleep and the other critters are out and about. If you’re really quiet, you might get lucky. Last year around this time I witnessed two foxes frolicking in the fresh powder. They were romping and playing like kids in the school yard. I was one of the rare times I wish I had a camera. I also like to use this walk to gather information about the small game running around. Where their paths are. What trees and shrubs they prefer this go around. Whether or not their numbers have increased. But when it comes to small game tracking, my main goal is to scout out the wounded or lame ones. Those are the ones first on my winter’s hunting list. It might sound cruel, but I’d rather take them out quickly and as painlessly as possible then to have them live in pain or die slowly of starvation.
I also like to keep an eye out for newly felled trees. They make for easy firewood come the spring.
But mostly I go to be with nature. Time will come soon enough where I’ll be stuck inside for most of the time, so I might as well enjoy being outside as much as I can. It’s a treasure that most just don’t understand. There’s a feeling of connection to the earth that is lost in the “civilized” world. People make a big to do about pushing forms and data all around, while spending only two weeks of their lives trying to undo the stress from the other fifty. They call that living. I call it insanity. You want living. Come up here and live this way for one year. Only then will you get a taste of what true living is about.