Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I know the official holiday is long past, but tonight I wanted to talk about a day I set aside each year as my personal day of Thanksgiving.

In the winter of 1979, I was in Worland, in northern Wyoming, living with a cousin there, working, traveling, skiing, and checking out my boundaries. On the 10th of February, I set out from the end of the plowed road in Grand Teton National Park at Colter Bay. I parked my car, shouldered my pack, and set out on a solo cross country ski camping trip for the night.

By 9PM I had set up the tent, had eaten, and had written a letter to a girlfriend back in Alabama by candle lamp light at 20 below zero. Content, full, and warm, I zipped up tight in my bag and enjoyed the quiet; the light of stars on snow was illuminating the tent after a while like daylight. My thoughts were on the day ahead and what the mountains would look like at sunrise.

The quiet changed into an otherworldly wump, wump, wump WUMPWUMP!!

I sat up, and the hoof of a moose tore through the tent wall and to the floor, right where I had been. It went left and ran through the guy lines I had secured the tent with, tied to a ski. With a crack and a shrill ripping sound, another wall of the tent disappeared, and in the starlight a silhouette of the moose was unmistakable, just 6 feet away.

There I was, zipped in a sleeping bag, trying to open the zipper and assess the damages to my all of a sudden, tiny, tiny world. I had gone from blissful slumber to terror in 2 seconds flat.

The wump, wump, wump had faded, and there was a ringing sound in my ears and a deep pounding in my chest.

The line from the tent to the ski had gotten tangled in the moose's feet, and the ski was gone. I fashioned a snowshoe out of my pack, put on the other ski and followed the trail of the moose to try to find the lost ski, knowing that if I wanted to survive, I had to leave, and soon.

In the darkness of the night, with the thought that someone might eventually find my bones and get my letter off to Maria, I made a promise to myself that if I survived, I would forever proclaim February 10th as my personal day of Thanksgiving; it would be my Celebration of Life Day.

It's been a long time since that night, but I still celebrate. I always try to find something for which I am thankful, and this year it was easy.

Broadfork #176 shipped today, and will soon be working the soil for many years after I am gone.

My wife is incredible, and every day is an adventure with her.

The sun was out on fresh snow today, and nothing is as beautiful as that.

Spring is coming, and the promise of the soil thawing comes again this year. The sun is stronger every day, and winter is heading for the history books, like the story of the moose in Colter Bay, Wyoming.

I hope you all had a good February 10th.

Celebrate Life.

All good things,