Part of the reason for moving to western North Carolina was to again experience proper seasons. In civilized, habitable zones of the planet, there are four seasons, arranged like so:
- Autumn (September – October): Pleasantly cool temperatures. The leaves on the trees turn pretty colors as they enter their death throes.
- Winter (November – March): Bitter cold. Ice, snow, wintry mix. Everyone in the region rails against the horrible temperatures, except for me. I’ll deign to close the windows but that’s as far as I’m going. I can see my own breath in my home.
- Spring (April – June): Pleasantly cool temperatures. Bunnies hopping around.
- Summer (July): A bit too hot for my tastes, but I can graciously endure for a few weeks, especially since this is the season when attractive people wear very little in the way of clothing.
- Bonus season: August: obnoxiously hot, but that’s okay because I’m spending a week at the beach.
After twelve years living in flatter, hotter parts of the country, I finally move back, only to find that I’ve been outmaneuvered by climate change. Generally I enjoy fighting a worthy opponent, but in this particular game I would really strongly prefer to be winning. My personal comfort is at stake. (Apparently there are some other related, less-important concerns, like the melting of the ice caps and the rising levels of the oceans, but personally I think it would do Manhattan some good to sink into the sea. A bit of humility could teach them some valuable lessons.)
In my chess match with climate change, I decided to try a new strategy, hoping to get the other side to relent a little. I deliberately made plans for this past Saturday, announcing several days in advance my intention of going on a hike — not just alone, as usual, but with company. I am pleased to report a small but definite victory: the weather responded by trying to thwart my plans. I got to enjoy a day full of icy trails, chilly temperatures, swirly rainy wind, and heavy fog.
The mountain I conquered was Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. It is named after Elisha Mitchell, a UNC professor who plummeted to his death while trying to determine the mountain’s height. Tragic way to end a life, if you ask me. All these nicely maintained trails with helpful color coding on the trees, and yet Doc Mitchell manages to fall off a cliff.
I may need to re-conquer Mt. Mitchell. The fog was wonderfully eerie and atmospheric, and honestly I’m disappointed that I didn’t stumble across a corpse, but part of the thrill of vanquishing a really tall mountain is to enjoy the views. Besides, it’s a very uphill sort of mountain — lots of vertical going on there — which is exactly the right sort of geographical feature for developing muscle tone. Personal health is all well and good, but the more important concern is sculpting oneself so as to look svelte when summer rolls around.
I’ve got a dilemma, though: if I return to Mt. Mitchell at a time when there may be, for instance, visibility, other people might try to show up. Nothing can ruin a weekend mountain adventure like uninvited guests. If I do find unwelcome people crawling around on my mountain, I’ll explain that they’re in mortal danger of being pecked to death by songbirds. Being eaten by a bear is perhaps a more effective threat, but I didn’t see any bears when I was hiking, despite calling out “Here, bear! Here, bear bear bear bear!” every time I saw a cave-looking rock. Though perhaps they were hiding in the dense fog. I wouldn’t put it past them. Bears are sneaky.
I did my mountain subjugating on Saturday. On Sunday I spent my time with less sculpty activities, including but not limited to tuba subjugating and letter writing. What I did not do on Sunday was to watch the Superbowl.
Apparently there are only two people in America who do not 1.) care about the Superbowl or 2.) realize that it’s on. I am one of those two people. The other person is Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, a man of fortitude and conviction. I say this in recognition of the fortitude and conviction he displays in not responding to my fanmail.
Onward, now, to an afternoon of editing and writing and spreading false rumors about the savagery of the animals who live on Mt. Mitchell and other mountains I may conceivably want to hike someday.