It’s January 15, mid-way through the deepest winter month here in Vermont, my experience tells me. It’s Martin Luther King Day today , dawning at -1 degree. That’s up from -17 on this day last week, but a lot colder than +52 degrees one other day last week. The weather has been…shall we say….interesting this winter. Smart people know that weather is different from climate, and we know, even as the cold snaps come along, that the entire planet continues to warm. We have a responsibility to continue planning initiatives at camp that support the long-term health of the earth. I think of that as I pass daily through our quiet camp. Stacks of fuel cut from windfall in our own woods is ready for camper cookouts and evening story telling in just a few months now.
January has a number of delights here and abroad! One long-time staff member traveled to Norway where the northern lights danced almost every night of her visit. Norway, situated in the far north, has long, dark days, longer than those here in Vermont. The country is known for many things, included among them are those inspirational lights. Occasionally we will see them in the dark of night here in Vermont, including in the summer time. I remember one magical evening when a sun storm led to northern lights being forecasted during the camp season. We quickly arranged an all-camp sleep out! It was an elegant night with lights of many colors entertaining wakeful campers and staff for some time!
There are some fun myths about the northern lights from cultures around the world. In our area of Vermont, Algonquian people believed that the lights were from a fire built by Nanahbozho, the creator of the tribe. The fire was Nanahbozho’s way of telling people that their creator remembered them and was watching over them. Way further north, some Inuit people believe that the lights are human spirits playing a ball game with a walrus skull as the ball. Some Makah Indian people in Washington State claimed that the lights were fires created by a tribe of dwarves who used the fire to boil whale blubber. One summer, our second-year leadership girls traveled to Estonia on their service-learning trip. Some Estonians claimed that the lights were a magnificent horse-drawn carriage carrying heavenly guests to a spectacular, celestial wedding.
If you have the chance to experience the northern lights, you’ll remember these myths and perhaps enjoy the process of creating your own story!
Around camp, January delights include the sparkle of a long-lasting freeze that followed that 52 degree and rainy day last week. Because that warm day was followed by deep cold, the ice on bushes and trees has stayed. Camp looks like someone sprinkled glitter over the entire site. Our bedazzled woods! Amazing to see and delightful to walk through! It has been fun to have a number of camp family members return to see the magic!
January delights for all of us should include the words of Martin Luther King. In this particular time in our country’s history, I remember this one:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
King spoke those words in his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. These days there are a lot of things that matter, and a lot of things that each of us can and should speak about. I am excited to know that many Betsey Cox community members have learned to find their voices and to speak their minds here at camp.
January’s delights are free for the taking for those with sharp senses. Take a close look!