For the past five years, we’ve joined a few like-minded families and trekked out to the Manitoba cabin and yurt system on Turnagain Pass for some spring backcountry skiing and a mega kid sleepover.
If you’ve ever nursed cabin fever just before the tilting of the earth toward our star can really be felt, or spent the last four months listening to your kids bicker about who gets what chair at dinnertime, or would like to just plain get out of Dodge, you really should spend a week planning, two days packing, more yelling (this time about pairs of underwear and wet socks), and saunter on skis out to a cabin, stuffing your family into an even smaller living space that they have to share with even more people.
Then give them jobs to do.
And don’t bring many toys, because they’ll find one thing
or another to occupy their minds.
The common desires to access backcountry skiing (as actual adult individuals) and also to insert the familiarity of nature into our children drag us out here year after year, but I wondered this time (while considering the ‘man’ in Manitoba),
what is the balance of inserting ourselves into a place?
There’s a quote by Mr. Muir and it goes a bit like this:
“No dogma taught by the present civilization seems to form so insuperable an obstacle in the way of a right understanding of the relations which culture sustains to wildness as that which regards the world as made especially for the uses of man. Every animal, plant, and crystal controverts it in the plainest terms. Yet it is taught from century to century as something ever new and precious, and in the resulting darkness the enormous conceit is allowed to go unchallenged” (emphasis added).
Our annual pilgrimage has been about the imprint this slice of nature leaves on us and our children, but like snowshoe hare tracks to the watering hole, we also leave our imprint on the place we occupy.
As humans it seems we insert a theory of pristine upon nature and seek the thrill of being a part of it. We admire the mountains, nature at its purest, most raw, untouched form.
But then you zoom in.
And see tracks, the fingerprints of humanity, scrawled across those falsely vestal faces.
It is not untouched.
We make tracks.
We leave trails.
The signs of games linger.
Yes, the smoke eventually dissipates. The ski lines melt into the arms of spring. The sauna cools. The embers in the yurt quietly flicker into stillness. And this, I suppose, is how it should be.
Because the world wasn’t made for us.
But maybe, just maybe,
We were made for, and are potentially capable of, embracing the world.