I miss you.
I never thought I’d say that. You have always been my least favorite season. Spring means that summer is on its way. Fall always has stunning colors and the promise of finally having a great school year. Summer is my favorite. It’s warm, days are longer, and people come out of their homes to enjoy the richness of life around them. I get to wear flip flops and tank tops and swishy skirts and not worry about forgetting gloves. Summer is when I get to spend days outside, and nights around campfires. I really do love summer best… but you are starting to grow on me.
It started small, with a friend or two mentioning that you both get along well. They pointed out that my major complaints with you (temperature mostly) are all solvable problems. Yet I resisted.
Then I tried ice climbing.
My first trip to the Adirondacks and the Keene Valley was on February 14, 2009. I wore borrowed gaiters and a windbreaker over a fleece I purchased on clearance since I didn’t already own one (summer has full reign over my wardrobe.) I stocked up on hand and foot warmers too, terrified of your icy touch. But from the moment my pick first touched the frozen waterfall, I knew our relationship had begun. The sound of a solid stick, the crunch of the snowy layers beneath my crampons, the pristine white, the careless showers as trees shed their loads – these are the impressions that drifted through my mind on the 10 hour ride home. I knew had to get to know you better.
Our next meeting was on ice yet again, and then to prove my commitment, I chased you up Algonquin in the middle of January, 2010. I stood on the summit, wrapped in layers and layers of movement restricting clothing, and for the first time I didn’t feel cold.
In the months since, I’ve learned about layering, diet, and gear. I’ve learned that spending the night in a hotel room with 8 other people can be just as fun as sitting with them around a campfire. I’ve learned that hot chocolate in a thermos is just as good as cold water after a long hike. I now own boots, hats, gloves and long underwear. I dream about the day when I won’t feel like a sausage as I hike to a climb. I dream about ice tools and chandeliers. I dream about you.
Now you are fading away, and thoughts of rock and heat fill my mind. But for the first time, I am looking forward to your return. After a long summer, I’m going to need a good dose of your quiet charm. Meet me in the mountains in December. I’ll bring the hot chocolate.