Brotherhood of the North

25Jan11

We had just finished an epic day of skiing when my friend David received an email from his sister inviting him to dinner down in Boston. “What are you doing in New Hampshire” she wanted to know, “it’s cold, cold, cold!”

Laughing, David remarked, “People just don’t understand us.”

There was no need to expand on who was meant by “us.” The older I get, the more acutely aware I am that my interest in the outdoors and fitness is something shared by relatively few. Most people stay inside when temps dip into the single digits. It makes sense but for me it’s not much fun.

I’m trying to do a better job of reaching out to the people in my life that share my interests. Community is a tremendous resource. It gives me energy, helps me focus and expands my knowledge base.

Weilding his tools

And I’m trying to do the same for my kids, Drew in particular. In a neighborhood of nice kids that groove on video games, the computer and their iphones, my bushy, blonde boy is often frustrated by his play choices. He likes the toys of his age as much as anyone but his first impulse is to be physical. To play outside, build a fort, run around or ride his bike. In the community he finds himself in, he’s often alone.  His sister has become his most frequent and best matched companion.

So this weekend, we headed up north for what he coined his “dream vacation”: A day of skiing at Attitash, followed by a day of ice climbing just outside of North Conway. In between, we swam in the hotel’s outdoor pool, he rolled in the snow before diving in. I went running and we sampled both Indian and Thai food with good results.

Joining us, were my cousin Patrick (29 years old) and my longtime friend David (late thirties). My wife had questioned my decision to invite them along and risk making Drew feel “out of the loop” but though I couldn’t really articulate it, I knew it was a good decision. Drew sees enough of me.

On the wall.

Patrick and David are hardcore kind of guys. They don’t complain about the cold, they don’t make you wait for them, they deal with what the day has provided and they’re just grateful to be out using their bodies. In other words, though they are not in his peer group, they created a nice, little community of friendship and interest that my son grew stronger on.

It took a bit of doing on my part, to get all the pieces in place for the weekend. It would have been easier to just do the weekend with Drew and myself. But it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as fun or powerful, for Drew and for me.

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One Response to “Brotherhood of the North”

  1. 1 David

    Jim & Drew:
    Thank you for inviting me alone for the great adventure. Hanging out with a ten year did not slow down the action. Actually, I spent the weekend trying to keep up with him. The highlight of the trip for me was seeing this boy scale a 60 foot ice wall three times. The people, places and things were perfect on this weekend.

    Why do I only show up in the blog when it is 10 degrees and we spend the whole day outside?


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