because it is there

Working at a northern fishing camp was quite an adventure. I liked exploring through the bush, seeing what I could find. New to the camp, I followed this one trail for miles and found out later that it lead to where they beardumped the bear bait. It was probably a good thing I turned back when I did. Working 14 hours a day, I didn’t have much time to enjoy the amenities. I did go fishing once, not catching one of the 52 inch monsters but a only small lake trout. I also got to ride in the float plane with some very inebriated lodge guests. Luckily, the pilot of was sober. Being one of a few females in a predominantly male environment is an adventure in itself. Most of the conversation revolved around fishing and hunting accompanied by a lot of drinking. As one of the fishing guides succinctly put it,”Work, drink, repeat.”

Mountain climbing seems like the ultimate adventure to me. Like many armchair mountaineering fans, I got hooked on the topic after reading Into Thin Air and Eiger Dreams by John Krakauer. I also read an adventure anthology with stories of famous ascents of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.

le-tour-du-mont-blancvache-973212925840449mematterhorn-64951287925954AJM6

Although it might be losing cachet due to increasing commercialism, I am fascinated by Mount Everest. Actually reaching the summit (29,029 ft above sea level), must indeed seem like you are on the roof of the world. (If you can survive the death zone, that is.)  “Because it is there,” replied George Mallory when asked why he sought to climb the world’s tallest mountain. In June 1924 Mallory, along with Sandy Irvine, were attempting to reach the summit of Everest. Last seen climbing the northeast ridge, they both disappeared and it is not known if they ever reached the summit. Mallory’s body was found in 1999.  Everest might be the tallest but it is not the most dangerous, according to many experts. The Matterhorn, the Eiger, Annapurna, K2, Mont Blanc, Mount Vinson and other peaks have all claimed lives yet people love challenges and keep on trying. There is that quest, that determination to conquer something – why not a mountain?

himalayan-mountains-1389998575T1II think if I was to take up mountaineering, I would have to start with something much, much, much smaller like Kilimanjaro. I would have the achievement of completing one of the Seven Summits. (The others being the highest peaks of the 7 continents: Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Elbrus, Vinson, Carstensz) Taking a mountaineering course would probably be the wisest option to get started. To participate in this sport, you need to know what you are doing as the wrong move could mean your life.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” ~ Sir Edmund Hillary 

Not to worry, the closest I will ever get to Everest is a casual acquaintance who made it to base camp and a friend who is from Nepal. Along with other plans of derring-do, making it to Base Camp is definitely on my bucket list. Climbing mountains is the sine qua non of adventure but it is beyond the reach of most of us. Not to mention being expensive, it would require peak physical stamina and mental fortitude. Not something you want to try if you are out of shape or lack persistence. I work out nearly every day but something tells me that is not enough.

Anyway, I have to be content with everyday, prosaic adventures like trying to walk (on this city’s icy streets (this is where crampons would come in handy!) in the winter or navigating the Costco parking lot on a Saturday morning.  With a certain amount of imagination and requisite curiosity, everyday life can be an adventure – you just have to know where to find it.

Adventure

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liberté

The older I get, the more nostalgic I become about childhood. Ah childhood, then breezy sigh. I realize how good I really had it in those days. I was free from worry, didn’t have to paybirthday bills or work for a living. There were no tough decisions to make or responsibilities to shoulder. I had good parents to look out for me  and keep me safe. There were neighbour kids to play with, puddles to splash in, snowmen to make, puppies and kittens to adopt and older siblings to irritate. Life was idyllic.

As I grew older being a kid was no fun at all.I felt powerless and constricted, always under the control of my parents and teachers at school. Being a child meant getting told what to do 24/7, having your opinions and feelings discounted by philistine adults. How self-centred we all are when we are young, the world revolves around us, don’t you know?

I couldn’t wait to get away from home so I could do what I wanted – finally. Yes, the so-called freedom was great but it also required maturity and accepting responsibility. All of a sudden there was no one standing behind me with his wallet open paying my way or writing a cheque for tuition. Worse yet, I had to do my own cooking and cleaning. I found you can only eat so many pizzas and that sticky dishes and mildewed laundry pile up overnight. Thankfully my housekeeping skills have improved remarkably.

Childhood means freedom and children should be free to enjoy life, to laugh, play and simply be a kid. Something a lot of us adults do not have the time to contemplate let alone enjoy!

Childhood

Innocence

cat

Epitome of innocence ~

“A person or thing that is a perfect example of a particular quality or type.”

Our cat Fluffy would not leave this Siamese fighting fish alone. She would watch it  and sometimes stick her paw in the bowl to give it a few whacks or try to catch it. One day it was swimming on its side, one fin lifted feebly in the air. I knew it wasn’t long for this world. Fish tend to be short-lived anyway but the cat had probably hastened its  demise somehow. A similar thing happened to my daughter’s hamster. She hadn’t closed the lid firmly enough after cleaning the cage. Sure enough, next day no more Nutmeg the hamster gleefully playing in the shavings. Fluffy sat in the corner licking her paws looking totally innocent.

Cats are great but sometimes they can be bloodthirsty little creatures!

Epitome

do or do not…

truck

Being from a rural background, I learned to drive early. Vehicles were no mystery and extra drivers were always needed to fetch, haul or pick up others. While it is said (I forget who said it) you should never learn to drive from your parents, I learned mostly from my dad. He  wasn’t much of an explainer and certainly didn’t repeat himself. You had to get it all the first time, shift, turn, signal, first, second, third.  Driving with my dad was a calming, if silent experience. I think if I’d drove over a cliff, he would have shown no emotion, maybe remarked,”Let’s see now, this doesn’t look so good.”

On the other hand, driving with my mother was a harrowing experience. She seemed to require as many hands as a Hindu god, clutching the seat, the door handles (no seat belts in those days!), the arm rests, anywhere. Then there was the audible gasp every 5 minutes and the stamping braking motion when she thought I wasn’t going to stop in time. She could have made a nervous wreck out of Mario Andretti. She certainly made one out of me. i wished I’d had a more phlegmatic temperament like my sister, then it probably would have rolled right off me.

She may have come by her terror of driving naturally. My parents were in a car accident (thankfully no one was seriously injured) and ever since she was jumpy both behind the wheel and as a passenger.

Like everyone else, I took driver training during high school. I wonder if they still show those accident carnage photos or videos. Those were enough to put you off driving for good. I received my drivers license and then proceeded to not drive for about the next 15 years. I got behind the wheel again but I can’t say I enjoy driving or ever will. It is strictly a have-to not a want-to. If you want to get your kid to figure skating class at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning and the rink is across town, then you had better drive. The joy of driving a pick-up truck down a dusty country road when you are 11 is not the same as sitting in traffic on the verge of road rage.

Of course there are many things in life we dislike to do but we still have to do them anyway. Suck it up and just do it.  I am always surprised when I hear what others fear – spiders, snakes, flying, crowds, rejection, other people. The thing is not to avoid the things we fear but to face them head on and hopefully overcome them. Even if you can’t master fears completely, it still counts for something as long as you tried.

Just don’t ever drive with my mother.

Learning

mother mary

I’m not sure how my mother came by this statuette. It is one of the many things of hers which I kept after she passed away. She liked to collect things but let me be clear that she was not a hoarder of any kind. Mary

I don’t know why she would have a statuette of the Virgin Mary as we were not Catholic but for some reason it appealed to her. I remember her comment when I asked her about it,”I couldn’t bring myself to throw her away.” She did display the statuette in kind of an irreverent place though – crowded in with other knick knacks in the bathroom. I doubt the Virgin Mary was ever the patron saint of bathrooms. She could have at least kept a Martin Luther toothbrush holder or something just to be fair.

At least I keep the statuette on a high shelf where she can gaze down serenely on the comings and goings of lesser mortals.  I am not remotely Catholic or possess even an frisson of religious feeling so it is odd that I would carry on my mother’s fixation. Obviously, I kept the statuette because it belonged to my mother and reminds me of her. I also like it because of its clean white lines and minimalist design. It does not resemble the lurid painted figurines with tears rolling down their agonized faces that are supposed to represent Jesus or other deities. This Virgin Mary is graceful and beautiful and looking at her I can “Keep calm and carry on” to employ a much-used old internet meme.