A Volunteer’s Muse
2015-07-07 21:17:52.000 – Keil Davis and Josie Paul, Summit Volunteers
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
― John Muir
The high pitch trilled call of the Cedar Waxwing pierced my ear as a flock fluttered overhead on a comfortably cool July morning. They lit in a nearby tree as I was standing there with Josie, my friend and colleague, staring at the sheer mass of mountains from the parking lot below wondering what the week would hold. Interns and crew began showing up as clouds crowned the summit, enveloping our destination. We made acquaintances, chatted a bit, and piled into the van. With Kaitlyn at the helm, the van chugged upward and onward into the clouds.
The wind was as strong as it was cold as it flung the van’s side door wide open when we piled out to unload bags and boxes full of supplies. A mere 24 hours before I was in the sweltering humid heat of Houston, Texas where I call home. The change in temperature was most certainly a welcomed change, though I wondered if we would ever be able to see farther than 15 meters in front of us and if the wind speed would ever dip below 35 MPH. Once inside, the shift change went swimmingly; we absorbed as much knowledge from Jeanine and Charlie as we could before we took the reins. We took stock of what we had to work with in the kitchen, got a basic idea of the building, Knapper joined us for a safety meeting, and then we settled in for a week of cooking, conversation, maintenance, hiking, and passing time.
The clouds hung around for about a day and half. Josie and I didn’t mind, we enjoyed hanging out in the den, cooking, listening to music, and getting to know each other and the crew better. On the second day we got a call from Kaitlyn up top to let us know that the clouds had broken. It was a sprint to the weather room; I likened it to a fire alarm drill. As we approached the window of the weather room, I was floored by the scenery that was coming into view. Gray trodden trails led the way across rolling green hills that casually stretched out to peaks covered by exposed mica shist. And this was only the foreground, as a backdrop there were grayish green profiles of impressive ridges lingering in front of other ridges growing fainter in hue with every mile until they disappeared from view into a colorless, shapeless oblivion to create a masterpiece that time and erosion have been slowly painting for the last 300 million years.
This would be our home for the next several days and we could not be happier about it. The week has been filled with delicious food(Josie happens to be a pastry chef and all around wizard in the kitchen), mesmerizing conversation, hearty laughs, fulfilling hikes, and a sense of wonderment for the entire organization that is the MWOBS. Josie and I have really enjoyed being around driven, passionate people pursuing their love for weather. The chemistry shows itself in the group cohesion, the way they relate, and the wonderful dinner conversations.
As I sit here now on the couch in the den, a day from departure, I think about the things that I won’t soon forget. I think about the conversations, I think about the meals, the forging of a relationship with Josie, the wonderful views, the unbelievable sunsets, the crew that Josie and I’ve gotten to know this week, the fascinating weather up here, the beautiful, serene call of the White-throated Sparrow I heard while out on the trails, and the beauty and vastness of the White Mountains, which I may have never experienced had it not been for this volunteering opportunity. Josie and I would both like to say, thank you, to all involved with MWOBS, you’ve got a great thing going up here.
Keil Davis and Josie Paul, Summit Volunteers