Alta Backcountry

Affordable, Simple Joy in Solitude

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I think it’s important, in this time of trial and tribulation, to remember that there is great beauty surrounding us everywhere. Like this cup of tea I’m drinking right now. A Vanilla Sleepytime concoction, with a fair bit of honey, and a touch of milk. Truth is, no matter how bad things get, no matter how long we’re out of work, we’ll have tea. And with that, we’ll have at least one good thing more than once a day. (Cost of a tea bag: $0.25)

But there is much more than that. How about the smell of a piece of pine firewood in your hands? It smells like…well firewood. I don’t know of anything else to compare it to, but are there many better smells out there than a freshly split piece of wood? It screams warmth, nature, crisp mornings and happiness. (Cost to smell wood: $0)

Tonight Elaine made tomato soup. Straight from scratch, like she loves to do. Watching Elaine cook soup is watching a crazy maestro concocting some magical potion, dumping vegetables and spices into a massive cauldron, stirring it up with a huge wooden spoon, while dancing and listening to Taylor Swift. And then that first spoonful, when the spices hit you, adding a kick to the flavor, knowing that, because she never uses recipes, you’ll probably never taste this taste again. That’s pure magic. (Cost of a bowl of homemade tomato soup: $1)

Lately we’ve been on a Rom Com kick. It’s become a daily ritual, a way to wind down, a way to tune out CNN, Fox News, the President and all the other doomsayers. Most probably wouldn’t think adventurers and mountain people like Rom Coms, but they’d be wrong. There is something purely ecstatic with the humor and fantastical story lines that brings a smile and laugh to the heart. To the toughest of the tough…tune into a Rom Com. It’ll make you happy. (Cost of a RomCom: $0.33 a day if you get a Netflix subscription. If you can’t afford that, ask your mom. She’s probably got an account and will loan you her password.)

Powder snow ski turns are pure happiness too. Like the other day, where we walked out the door, popped on our skis and started skinning west, away from everybody. We were lucky this day, the snow was deep, and when we reached the top, the sun was just rising over the eastern horizon. Elaine put her hands up, and celebrated the moment, the successful climb, the being alive, the display nature was giving us, the glitter of sunlight on the freshly fallen snow, the being alone and happy. And then, we floated down, bouncing on a cushion of fluffy snow, effortlessly as the snow plumed around. There are few sensations on the planet finer than skiing powder snow. (Cost of powder snow enjoyment: $0)

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It’s a time for music and symphonies. Music can and will lift the soul. It will provide courage. The very purpose of music, I think, is to lift us out of the doldrums to a better and braver place.  Beethoven wrote the 9th Symphony, the “Ode to Joy,” 100% deaf. If he can overcome this physical handicap to write the most beautiful piece of music of all time, we can survive Coronavirus. Whatever your music preference, now is a good time to dive into it. (Cost of music: internet service, but really, nothing.)

Tonight in Happy Valley it’s flurrying and the wind is blowing. The world is alive. Nature is alive. We can survive this. We just need to learn to blend with nature. When nature screams stop, we should stop. Listen carefully to mother nature. What is she telling you to do right now? How does she want you to survive? Nature doesn’t want us to go extinct. She wants us to find balance in how we live. We can do this. We just need to stop fighting it. (Cost of listening to nature: $0)

Behind the gloom and doom and confused messages of our leaders, there is everyday beauty. A drink that brings content, a smell that reminds of a pure and perfect time or place, and activity or feeling that fills the heart with joy. I think, right now, we need to isolate and while doing so, we need to relax and yet also search relentlessly for ways to find pure joy in each and every day. Times are scary, no doubt about it. But being aware of the hundreds of small moments of beauty each day will overwhelm the scary, and if we do this every day, we will win.

3 Replies to “Affordable, Simple Joy in Solitude”

  1. This is really so beautiful!!! You are an amazing writer! Thanks for this share!
    And we did just have to cancel Netlix. Hmm, may be hitting up my brothers. Lol!

    Like

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