In which you consider survival…physically, not metaphorically…well, maybe a little metaphorically…
Hey, hey ya
Hey ya, hey-ya-ha
Survival’s the focus
Survival’s the focus…
…can be heard by the Ermines and Douglas’s squirrel.
The little voles below might hear you
And so does the Grey jay on his hemlock branch watching a train of 30 or so fourth graders march the song out…in two feet of fresh powder.
You stole the chant from one of the Indian songs…to honor them…not to repeat offence…and everyone has a good time singing in the woods. You sing the Indian part like your elementary school music teacher taught you…all out and with noble intention.
You may be thinking of your lightweight snowshoes, and the technology which has brought them about. Ideas stolen from nature, the Yukon variety of shoe might have come from the hare,
…but for you the name Yukon invites an image of a large river, or a geographical region in the north. Maybe it even reminds you of a short story you read by Jack London… your freshman year of high school when an ambitious student teacher wanted to excite you with a two-week unit on survival and how to write a short story.
You read “How to Build a Fire” again, wondering what it would be like to spit, only to have it crackle-freeze in the air. And you, wiser than this character geezer, understand that the reason he made off so poorly is because he wore moccasins, and really ought-to’ve had snowshoes. Wet feet are dead feet. He really should have been taught by his schoolteachers and kin that one must make connections to the indifferent Mother Nature who simultaneously supports us without bias.
“The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty-odd degrees of frost. Such fact impressed him as being cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man’s frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man’s place in the universe.” (Jack London)
You notice many instances when people do not take the time to use their imagination as this character might’ve. It does take a lot of energy to work it out with the biosphere, to recognize less obvious dangers and opportunities for symbiosis. You are humorously aware of your lack of direction and cautious clambering down of slopes (when the fourth graders run down, oblivious to a fear of falling or the adults shouting out safety imperatives).
And when you do inevitably fall in the fresh two feet or so, you are able to laugh at yourself and the cool irony, while knowing saftey is quite near…you are not desperate to build a fire.
However, you are surprised when two girls lend a hand to you in order to help you up. One small glove comes at you, and so does another.
You reflect later and are positive these kids will do just fine and you imagine a mental movie of people in Congress or high officials in other countries taking lessons from these students who know how to take care of others, who can together survive a field trip in the snow.