By: Brianne Bishop 2018 Student Conservation Association NH AmeriCorps Member
It’s easy to get caught up in the small details of everyday life, especially here at Bear Brook State Park. Simple daily tasks have become a chore. Daily challenges include: staying warm, brushing teeth in a timely manner, showering every now and then, being able to wash clothes that have been pushed to their limits, competing for outlets to charge electronics, sharing limited WiFi with 27 people, actually completing daily chores, getting out of bed in the morning when the fire has been dead for who knows how long and it’s now freezing. But, when you put aside all of the small challenges of daily living here at Bear Brook, one can recognize the rewards this place has to offer. It’s the little things.
As a person who migrated to Costa Rica last year, partially in order to avoid winter, I never imagined myself in snowy New Hampshire. When we first arrived in the beginning of January, it was a major adjustment to say the least. We moved in following the coldest week of the season. To be honest, I was cold and miserable everyday. Not even two layers of clothing and endless amounts of hot drinks could keep me from shivering. Disclaimer: I am someone who is ALWAYS cold, even in the summertime. I found myself speed walking to and from my cabin in order to avoid the cold with my focus solely on the objective of reaching a warmer location.
I’ve had to tell myself to slow down a few times and take in the beautiful scenery around me, breathe in the crisp clean air, and to look and listen for black-capped chickadees and other birds and wildlife. One cold night when walking back to my cabin, I reminded myself to stop and look up. What I was rewarded with was a breathtaking view of the night sky hung with stars. It’s the little things.
Fun fact: The best nights to see the stars clearly are on nights when it’s the coldest. This is because when there is cloud coverage, it traps in heat from the earth’s surface. Clouds = warmer nights, but no stars. Clear skies = colder night, and billions of bright lights.
Every Monday, we participate in an activity called “Breathe” where we meditate for 40-minutes. We were able to pick our “breathe” spot outside in nature at the beginning of the program. I am all about meditation and taking personal time, however, I will admit, that at the beginning of the program, I thought that making us sit outside in the snow and cold was pure torture (like I said, I am not a huge fan of the cold). I didn’t bring a notebook or pen as suggested because I couldn’t imagine taking a glove off to write and make observations. I was too focused on being cold! I sat there miserable for 40-minutes for a couple of weeks. My view changed when a few weeks ago there was a light dusting of snow. We traveled to our “breathe” spots and on my way I saw tons, and I mean tons, of animal prints visible in the snow. I saw crow, chipmunks, squirrels, and possibly bobcat tracks.
We had just taught our students about tracks the previous week, and I was so excited about being able to observe them so clearly myself. I was so fascinated by the tracks that I didn’t even notice the cold. It didn’t bother me anymore. It’s the little things.
One night, while walking back to my cabin at a later than normal for me time, I had the experience of seeing a porcupine for the first time in my life!
Actually, I almost walked into the porcupine and probably would have if it weren’t for my roommate. Of course, my thoughts of being in a warm cabin were occupying my mind and distracting me from watching where I was walking. After the sighting, I was so excited about it that I was shaking with excitement, in addition to shivering from the cold. It’s the little things.
In a similar fashion, one weekend I decided to mix up my routine and left camp to adventure to Ellacoya State Park. Upon return, I was driving up the camp road, thinking about what I was going to do next when I got back to camp. As I drove around a bend, I saw an animal that was in the road. Recognizing this animal was larger than a deer I quickly realized that it was a moose! I am thankful I decided on that day to go out on my own and adventure and explore a new place because I was rewarded with the opportunity to see a moose. It’s the little things.
Even though I still miss the warmth of Costa Rica, the luxury of having easy access to a bathroom and central heating, it’s the little things at Bear Brook that make the daily activities more exciting, rewarding, and worth doing. I am thankful to have this experience and am thankful to be surrounded by trees, wildlife, and a wonderful group of people.
I advise you to take the time in your daily life, whether at Bear Brook or not, to stop, breathe, and enjoy the wonderful world around you. You will be shocked at what beautiful rewards nature has to offer. After all, it’s the little things.