In Praise of North


I never cared for palm trees and coconuts and would trade a week in the tropics for one day in the tundra.

That’s because I love the geographic North. Give me crisp, cold weather, snow, boreal and deciduous forests, icy mountains, northern legends and fairy tales, the aurora borealis, Santa Claus, fur hats and winter clothes, skiing, snow-shoeing, and hunkering down when a huge snowstorm threatens. Is there a softer peace in the world than a new snowfall or a greater exhilaration than a howling winter wind?

In fact, while many imagine a heaven that softly chirps and gurgles across a temperate montage, I hope to spend eternity in a savage and majestic alpine landscape amidst snow-capped peaks, mountain meadows, and glacial lakes, where giant bears, great elk, lynx, eagles, and arctic wolves freely roam. North is more than a direction on the compass—it’s a spiritual guide to a Far Land, pure and remote.

Yes, give me such a climate than stimulates the soul and challenges the mind.

Perhaps it’s because I came into the world during a monumental January blizzard that held my mother snowbound, preventing her from reaching the hospital. Thus, I was born at home in—as I love to reflect—the same room and same bed in which I was conceived and in which, years later, my father on a bright autumn day would pass from the world. Continue reading