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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Ammi Midstokke: The gentle reminders of Mother Nature

Ammi Midstokke is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review writing about off-the-grid living. (The Spokesman-Review)
Ammi Midstokke is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review writing about off-the-grid living. (The Spokesman-Review)
By Ammi Midstokke For the Spokesman-Review

I don’t always like going outside.

Outside it is cold and wet. The snow, apparently here to stay this year, is deep and heavy. Some days, going outside is obligatory because I have a running coach who might send me texts in ALL CAPS if I miss a workout.

Those days, I can’t quite see outside of myself.

Yet, transformation is inevitable. Go outside, watch dogs leap and bound with carefree joy, look up to see the distant white mountains.

Eventually, the cloud over my brain will dissipate and clarity will come, light enlightenment to a meditator. Or so I assume – otherwise sitting still just seems like a waste of time.

On this day though, I can’t shake it. My snowshoes were rubbing. The snow was far too deep and I wore my flimsy pair. Every step was as hard as the work going on in my head. I ranted and raged in my mind. It was an invisible war in there.

I played a game with myself: think of anything and see what happens.

I chose car tires and within a moment, I was furious at the entire wheel industry, the chore of changing tires for the season, the time I got a ticket for having my studs on too late, and on and on. I could get mad at creme brûlée and it was only Wednesday.

I decided if I was going to suffer anyway, I might as well suffer with intention, and I trudged even harder through the snow.

I sunk with every step. The dogs kept walking on the back of my shoes and tripping me. My body was hot but my hands were cold. I only ate a banana for breakfast and now I’m starving.

My pity party was in full swing when I broke through a snow bridge and came crashing down into a creek. I let out a small cry as I flailed about trying to catch myself. The dogs, ever loyal, landed on top of me to lick my face with concern and I sank deeper into the snowy, watery chasm.

I couldn’t get out. The more I struggled, the more the snow caved in around me. My shoes were pinned at an impossible angle. Water was rushing around me as I shoved dogs and snow off of me. I was not getting anywhere.

*#%@! snowshoeing.

I capitulated to mother nature and my predicament. I stopped moving and listened to the silence.

Snow absorbed all the sounds but for the water rushing beneath me. I took a deep breath, then methodically pulled snow down to pack it so I could leverage a lift.

The series of chaotic lurching and breakdance moves which followed were what I imagined it to look like if the abominable snowman had a seizure while wearing a cupcake beanie.

Somehow, at the end of it, I was out of the creek and on the right side of it.

I laughed as I pulled the snow out of my pants and shirt. Okay, Universe, I hear you. Loud and clear.

Suddenly, I was grateful that I had a car and studded tires. What do I have to complain about? It was Wednesday and I was out hiking in my back yard with my dogs because I could.

I’m healthy and I have free time and even though I live in eternal winter, all the logistics of capitalism allow me to eat fair trade organic bananas for breakfast.

I picked up the pace because I was soaked and far from home. The only way to stay warm was to keep moving fast. The loop was long but I was on the shorter end of it.

I forgot all the things from earlier as I happily considered the warm fire and hot coffee awaiting me.

Just as I rounded the final corners toward my house, I see my dogs ahead approaching an enormous moose. He was right in the middle of the narrow road, and working around him meant a wide-berth detour in steep, snow-covered cliffs.

I watched my dogs and considered if I need to command them to bark or heel as they neared the bull.

They wagged their tails, greeting the moose like he could be our family horse. And the moose didn’t mind.

He smelled them right back and walked lazily down the road with them. I pitter-pattered behind until he stepped into some cedars to let us by, and I issued a cheerful “Good Morning, Mr. Moose,” as I trotted toward my cabin.

“Indeed it is,” he replied in silent moose telepathy speak as he contentedly chewed on a branch.

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