I spent most of my childhood in a wondrous place — a mostly desolate, and largely untouched, part of Northern Vermont. I remember trudging through snow that reached as high as my rib cage, trying to maintain my balance as I sported a puffy 90s neon snowsuit. Each attempt to catch my breath resulted in a deep, chesty cough. Some days the temperatures were 20 degrees below zero. The frigid air burned my throat and lungs, but I had an intense and amorous appreciation for Mother Nature and her limitless power and strength. Winter was my dad’s favorite season. It was mine too.
My dad was the one who taught me how to snowboard and he watched me fall, and get back up again, for hours. He let me ride on the back of his snowmobile as we ventured through the many wooded trails, weaving through the pine trees among the mountains. He brought me along when he went ice fishing on the thickly frozen lake. We built snowmen and snow forts and made snow angels. I owe my love for nature to him. We are connected by our love for this world. Winter was my dad’s favorite season. It was mine too.
Just before I turned 17, my dad passed away. I didn’t spend my winters up in Vermont anymore. He was the one who brought our trips to life. He was what made them so special. Surely I couldn’t handle a season as strong and powerful as a Northern Vermont winter on my own. Winter was my Dad’s favorite season. It was mine too.
I turn 26 in a few months and a lot has changed since I was a child. Winters don’t feel the same anymore, no matter where I go. Not just because my dad is gone, but because the planet is changing. I don’t have to trudge through the snow anymore because there is hardly any snow to trudge through. My throat and lungs don’t burn from the cold anymore because temperatures hardly fall below zero. I still have an intense and amorous appreciation for Mother Nature, but her strength is diminishing with each passing day.
I’ve recently made it my mission, my life’s work, to protect the world that once meant the world to me. And not just for me, but for all the little girls who just want to make snow angels with their dads. To be as lucky as I once was. My dad and I, we are connected by our love for this world. I feel his presence in every gust of wind and I see him in every silent snowfall. He remains here with me, alive, in each of these wondrous moments. Winter was my dad’s favorite season. It is mine too.