Enduring the Elements - Jimmy Breitenstein

Enduring the Elements

Most people live within the realms of comfort, with the ability to alter the conditions of our surroundings if we're not satisfied. For instance, if we're too cold, we simply turn up the thermostat. If we're hungry, we go to the fridge and pick out whatever we're in the mood for. Nothing puts this into better perspective for me than when I spend time with wildlife.


One brisk winter morning, I was snowshoeing along a river, looking for North American River Otters. It appeared to be snowing, but was just the bone chilling wind whipping up ice crystals that had already settled. At -11 degrees Fahrenheit, it was not exactly comfortable. I had been looking for some time, and was nearly ready to head back when I saw two dark shapes in the distance along the river's edge. Slowly making my way forward, I soon realized I'd found what I'd  been looking for. Two River Otters frolicking about in the snow, sliding on the ice that covered parts of the river and taking brief dips in the frigid water. I followed the Otters for some time, just enjoying watching them play and swim around, when suddenly they turned their attention to a slight hill above them. I looked to see what had captured their interest when I saw a Coyote struggling to make its way through the deep snow. Looking at that Coyote, I felt a deep reverence for that animal. Enduring the icy wind, with snow crusted on its face, just looking for it's next meal. It trudged on, following the river until it finally disappeared into that great expanse of white. That day spent with those Otters and my brief encounter with the Coyote just reminded me at how tough wildlife is and continually has to be in order to survive in a world that we've fashioned to revolve around our own comforts.

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