February 3, 2023 — On a beautiful spring day 30 years ago, I took my Mother on a hike to see the dramatic wildflowers in the sand bowl just east of Pyramid Point. It was a huge hike for her as I had no idea how dainty she was for a big trek like that. After many unplanned but jovial breaks on the way to the dune lilies and back, we climbed into the car and drove home. “Bobby,” she gently said, “How about if we work this way from now on — you go see these great places and come and tell me about them.” And from then on, I’ll have a great moment outside in nature and save it in my heart to tell my Mom later. I called them Mamma Moments.
On Tuesday evening, I skied over several hills in the Port Oneida Valley in the National Park. It was dark, but the moon was doing its best to push some light through the clouds. There was just enough light to help me avoid trees and branches, but not enough to reveal logs hiding in the snow, so I wiped out several times. I lingered longer on top of the snow each time I fell. I was mourning the loss of my Mom and it felt so good to be in such a quiet place.
After some long, tenuous travel across uneven snow in the dark, I made it to a favorite ridge overlooking Baker Road. I could faintly see moonlit snow-covered fields for miles on this mostly open hilltop with beautiful white birch, oak and white pine spread out across its spine. As I headed down, I had a moment in near darkness as I glided under several thick pine trees near the bottom and then, I was gliding across an open field.
As I coasted to a stop, it felt bright as day! There was a large circle break in the clouds and the moon was perfectly centered and the bright stars were everywhere shining down on me and reflecting on the snow. It felt like I had just skied into the Big House and someone turned the lights on. I yelled in celebration.
My newly deceased mother was playing with the weather to give me an extra special Mamma Moment.