Friday, January 18, 2013

Life Without Winter

By Lou Lunte, Associate State Director

Okay, like many people I can get pretty grumpy about winter. I’ll admit it, come mid-January, the darkness, bitter cold and icy roads get to me. Sure, I ski and like the view of a beautiful winter day, but that’s just not always enough to contain the grumpiness.  Sometimes my wife can hear me muttering about “Why is it so cold and dark? Couldn’t we just go from fall to spring and avoid winter?” She smiles and consoles me with a reminder to never move to Alaska.

Who would have guessed that an added benefit of hosting foreign exchange students would be a renewed enthusiasm for winter? Over the last few years my family has been lucky enough to host high school students from Thailand and Colombia. Though they both had long lists of experiences they hoped to have as part of their year in Idaho, near the top of both lists was winter and snow. They had never experienced four seasons and had never been in the snow.

Suddenly, everything about winter became exciting. There was so much to see and do and explain and photograph. First the leaves changed colors and fell. Then there were ice crystals in the crisp air, the colors of the winter sky and the clarity of the winter nights. Of course, we spent lots of time getting out to explore and enjoy winter. Walks along the Boise River, its side channels frozen into exquisite ice sculptures, always seeing fox, squirrel, weasel and geese prints in the snow. Many trips to Bogus Basin as they learned to ski and snowboard. Snow angels, snowmen, icicles and snowball throwing. How can you not sigh with pleasure as you settle down into Kirkham hot springs with light snow falling from the sky, watch the elk on the hillside near Tollgate or enjoy a snowy walk along the Oregon coast?

Wow, I remembered how fun and beautiful winter could be. How great it is to have four seasons, particularly when you live in Idaho and can so easily get outdoors and enjoy nature’s dramatic changes. Thanks to Daniela and Fa for reminding me how lucky I am to have fresh fallen snow. I’m thinking of you now as my wife, daughters and I grab our skis and head for a crisp but sunny day on Bogus – my daughters flying down Wildcat, while my wife and I swish along beneath the snow laden ponderosa pine.

Okay, maybe not Alaska yet, but I’m loving January in Idaho!

Photos ©Lou Lunte/The Nature Conservancy

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