Environmental whiplash. No seriously, it's a thing. I had a severe case of it this weekend when I launched straight from a bouncy house birthday party to a glacier hike. One minute I'm surrounded by screaming banshees and smelly socks and headache-inducing inflatables. An hour later, I'm hiking a frozen lake en route to a glacier. Which, come to think of it, is the cure for just about everything, including environmental whiplash.
The boys pressed forward faster, leaving us to linger in the long mountain shadow. I listened to her whine of a cold face and a bruised knee, neither of which are remote factors when she wants to ski just one more run. Hiking is all plod and no whoosh, or so she thinks.
I asked her to sing to pass the time, to leave less air space for the complain-plane. She sang her Alaska songs (Fur Rondezvous and Huskies), and corrected me after I messed up the refrain (you say mush TWO times, not THREE, silly mama). The sun found us again, and together we turned a corner in every sense.
There it was. We walked right up to the glacier and said hello. We pulled out the snacks and the camera and our sense of wonder. Perhaps they were tired of my remarks about how incredibly amazing it was to travel this hour in this place, but they didn't disagree. The girl perked up, in fact, started dancing on the ice, pointing out heart shapes, embracing the label I tried giving her earlier when pleading for a faster gait--my "tough Alaskan girl".
I could maybe name a few moments in the whole of two hours where there wasn't at least a hint of discomfort. Fingers too cold, bladders too full, stomachs too empty, legs too tired.
But the discomfort is never what we remember. We latch on instead to the handful of minutes when the sun highlighted our hair and the glacier towered above and the icebergs became seats and the four of us were together in this surreal, desolate, wild corner of the world.