Friday, April 30, 2010

climb every mountain

It's important to have nonagenerian role-models.

Charles Houston died in September at age 96. He was a physician, an impassioned proponent of universal health care, a humanitarian, and climber. In the 1930s he led an assault on the imposing K2, and survived a catastrophe in which he'd estimated his party's chances to be no more than 1 in 10. He now thinks his friend and climbing-partner Art Gilkey sacrificed himself for the group.

Why climb a mountain? Because it's an adventure, a challenge, and a growth opportunity. We must always try to exceed our reach, and do things we think may be beyond us.

Bill Moyers interviewed him a few years ago. He's an inspiration.

[UPDATE: I didn't realize, when I posted this on Friday morning, that Friday's night's broadcast of Bill Moyers' Journal would be his last. Those are big shoes he's leaving for someone to fill. Friday's Fresh Air was devoted to him. He's now officially supplanted Jimmy Carter as my favorite Southern Baptist. He was already my favorite living Texan. (R.I.P., Molly Ivins.)]

And, for the record on this Walpurgisnacht Day:
On this day in 1852, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal, recording his observations of the woods and fields around Concord, Massachusetts:

"Down the Boston road and across to Turnpike, etc., etc. The elms are now generally in blossom and Cheney's elm still also. The last has leaf-buds which show the white. Now, before any leaves have appeared, their blossoms clothe the trees with a rich, warm brown color, which serves partially for foliage to the street-walker, and makes the tree more obvious. ... It is a beautiful day, — a mild air, — and all farmers and gardeners out and at work. Now is the time to set trees and consider what things you will plant in your garden. Yesterday I observed many fields newly plowed, the yellow soil looking very warm and dry in the sun; and one boy had fixed his handkerchief on a stick and elevated it on the yoke, where it flapped or streamed and rippled gaily in the wind, as he drove his oxen dragging a harrow over the plowed field. [...] Dodging behind a swell of land to avoid the men who were plowing, I saw unexpectedly (when I looked to see if we were concealed by the field) the blue mountains' line in the west (the whole intermediate earth and towns being concealed), this greenish field for a foreground sloping upward a few rods, and then those grand mountains seen over it in the background, so blue, —seashore, earth-shore, — and, warm as it is, covered with snow which reflected the sun. Then when I turned, I saw in the cast, just over the woods, the modest, pale, cloud-like moon, two-thirds full, looking spirit-like on these daylight scenes. Such a sight excites me. The earth is worthy to inhabit." Writer's Almanac

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