Things my mother taught me

It's mother's day, and I would like to offer a short meditation on things my mother taught me. Most worthwhile holidays involve the expression of gratitude, and this is no exception.

My mother taught me to take care of my teeth. This is my nephew Griffin, who of course is in the stage of life where losing teeth is exciting and lucrative. I've entered the next, much more lengthy stage. Losing teeth is painful and obnoxiously expensive, Griffin. Enjoy it while you can. Incidentally, I still occasionally employ the "gold star system" she used to encourage my brushing.

Griffin's great-great-grandfather Perry supposedly once looked at my mom--then perhaps Griffin's age--and said, "What you need is some campin'." I borrowed my mother's external-frame pack for my first backpacking trip, and my love for the mountains earned her approval from the beginning. This is me "campin'" in the North Cascades, roasting salami on a stick on a drizzly August day.

Now, it's funny that Perry would have a fond place in his heart for camping. He was a coal miner for much of his life, and a lumber jack as well. I'm glad he was able to separate the charms of outdoor living from the dangers and toil of his work. My mother taught me to value hard work, and to advocate for my rights as an employee. This is a sign from Holden copper mine near Lake Chelan.

While I rarely work for myself, I do have a lot of so-called "admin work" to facilitate my guiding activities. Contrary to popular misconception, mountain guides don't spend extravagant amounts of time at the beach or goofing off. This is a good portrait of many of my days out of the field. I am doing my best to emulate the diligent, list-driven style my mother modeled for me while running her own business for a decade and a half. I am watching weather, emailing clients, researching routes, and of course, writing blogs.

Reading has become a rare pleasure for me. I hazard a guess that my mother reads about two books a week, and that's about what I did when I was a teenager. Now that I have somehow made the bizarre transformation into a sort of jock, reading is all the more the ultimate in relaxation.

Of course, mayonnaise art has taken up a lot of my free time. Why read a book when you can draw things on bread with the most versatile and delicious condiment available? This image combines my mom's love of mayonnaise, her healthy sense of irreverence, and her belief that, in the end, you should really choose a hair style that pleases you. Thanks, mom.

I could go on, I realize, all day. I think I can only begin to grasp the things my parents did for me; things like immunizations, warm clothes, shelter, and food are easy to overlook. I'm thankful today that I had my mom--and three other parents--looking out for me; it's nice to have the well-being to appreciate all these subtler things you taught me. I love you, mom.

Thanks to Dave Moskowitz for the salami-roasting picture and the admin picture, and to Justin Wood for the reading picture and the mayo sacred heart picture.