Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Reflecting on Brian's Winter

I was cleaning out my digital files and discovered this piece written August 12, 2011. It's worth a share:
Every year I try to pay attention to the changing of the seasons, from summer to fall. It can be easy to suddenly realize that he trees are no longer green, but shades of red, orange, yellow, purple, and brown. Before I know it I’m throwing on a sweater over my shirt as I get ready for work. Ears of corn, cherries, and apples go on sale at the local grocery store.

These are all signs. They’re all indicators that the world is changing, whether I like it or not. It is a reminder of things past and a warning about the imminence of the future, of things unknown.

In the book Brian’s Winter, an alternate sequel to Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, the main character is oblivious to the changes around him. His focus on day-to-day survival in the Canadian wilderness leaves him unaware of the cooler nights and colorful displays in the treetops until one day he wakes up and discovers a foot of snow outside his shelter door.

I loved Brian’s Winter. After I had read it in Middle School I gave it to my dad to read. I don’t know how, but that book has formed a link in the chain that connects me to my dad. Every year as the weather starts to cool and the trees start to fill with color, one of us will mention the beginning of that book. It’s a reminder to be watchful, to recognize that things are changing and that we much change with them.

My dad’s getting older. I’m going to be “Dad” soon. The responsibilities keep piling on, and the temptation to look back on the past is as strong as ever. Dad turns 51 this year.

Maybe that’s why Dad’s usually the first one to bring up Brian’s Winter. It’s a reminder as much to himself as it is to me that we can’t dwell on the past. We can’t even maintain our focus on the present. Like it or not, things are changing. The only way to be ready for it is to look ahead.

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