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By Jack Mountain Bushcraft
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Gratitude On The Shortest Day Of The Year

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Today is the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year, and a day that traditionally is about being thankful for what we have, and the people we’re around.

This morning, as I slipped on my snowshoes to wander around the woods at our place, I remembered a dear friend of mine showing me how to weave the platforms of those snowshoes tightly so they’d provide enough float. The memory of that occasion got me thinking about all the winter gear I have and use when guiding people on snowshoe trips, or just spending time out on my own. Numerous pieces of my winter kit have been gifted to me, traded for with things I’ve made, or someone sat patiently with me while I learned how to make them myself. I think it’d be a bit vulgar to point out each individual and their contributions to this thought process, but you know who you are, and hopefully that it’s appreciated.

That’s what community is as far as I’m concerned. It’s not just a shared way of life in the philosophical sense, but a unique shared culture that develops to the group internally as methods of doing things, or shares material objects that they’ve put time into and are of use. The tools of the trade (both physical items, and skills) that I use almost every day most winters, and rely on heavily to live well are almost all things that haven’t been purchased but passed to me by people I respect. That inspires an immense amount of gratitude in me and lights a fire in my belly to keep doing this work so more and more folks can experience that same sense of belonging.

The long and short of all of this is that I’m grateful for the community I’ve found in the guiding and outdoor industry. It’s a strange one to be a part of, with lots of inside jokes and periods of radio silence while we’re in the bush, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I hope all of you in our weird little dysfunctional family have a blessed solstice, and that next year we can get back out on snowshoes and inside hot tents again.


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