For Paul Rezendes, sign tracking is, at its core, a meditation.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 1999 issue of Spirituality & Health.
When we learn to read nature's signs, everything we encounter is what we're looking for.
Surely we were insane. Struggling knee-deep through back-country snow (sans snowshoes), we toiled up a mountain slope on the most Siberian weekend of the year. So frigid was the weather, so biting the wind, tears froze on our cheeks despite protective face coverings. Already, half our small group had turned back, fearful of frostbite. Some, in fact, hadn’t made it past the glacial parking lot. “We’ll have the hot chocolate ready when you return, if you do.” They chuckled cheerfully, as they scuttled off to centrally heated comfort.
Despite two pairs of long johns, three pairs of socks, ski outerwear, insulated boots, and the brutish exercise, keeping warm was impossible. We’d already been told that if our feet or other extremities started going numb, we must go back. Our guide was pointing to a patch of yellow snow (who hasn’t known since kindergarten what that signifies?), and telling us to pick up a handful and inhale deepl …
Jan Goodwin is the former executive editor of Ladies' Home Journal. Her nonfiction books include Caught in the Crossfire, the story of her journey with freedom fighters in war-torn Afghanistan, and Price of Honor, Muslim Women Life the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World.