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It is apropos that National Mountain Day today happens within this holiday season. Mountains means snow, and snow is irrevocably bound to Christmas for me

No matter how often I see them, I am always filled with awe and contentment.  In times of joy and times of sorrow, I find connection and solace in their presence.  Even covered with clouds, I still sense their shimmering presence.

They never fail to settle my spirit.

You see, I grew up in Toronto, Ontario where towering city skyscrapers infuse residents with amazement. I was not one of them. I felt no attraction for these man-made monuments.

I soon discovered what did stir my restless soul.

My first significant travel adventure happened to be my honeymoon. Not being the athletic type, I was determined to learn the sport my husband loved. So, the first stop for the honeymoon trousseau was the colour coordinated ski bunny outfit. I envisioned myself, looking oh so adorable, learning the skill quickly and moving gracefully from the beginners to advanced slope to ski alongside my husband. Such was not to be the case. Due to an illness, I spent ninety percent of my honeymoon cocooned in the beautiful, but mostly deserted Lake Louise ski chalet.  Although afraid of heights, I mastered my overwhelming fear to bravely ride the gondola, listening to the wheels slide along ice glistening cables, gliding us to the chalet. Quickly stepping out, the smell of the snow, that unique combination of winter air and water, gripped my breath.

Waving to my husband, as he headed ever higher to where only skiers could go, I carried a book into the chalet. I knew hours would pass before he returned with a dazzlingly contented smile. The book soon lay discarded as I watched the colourful flash of skiers through the oversized glass windows.  I sat close beside the fireplace so I could eavesdrop on the enthused skiers’ stories as they warmed bodies and bellies. But, most of all, I simply sat and gazed. In that week, I could never fill my senses enough with the majesty of the Alberta Rockies. In my aloneness, I found an intimacy with their stillness and natural beauty.

In truth, neither my husband nor I could ever escape the memory of their haunting loveliness. This mutual love inspired us to search for a university with a mountain view. Our quest was fulfilled when we secured one of the coveted apartments on Simon Fraser University campus. Looking out our glass patio door window, snow-covered hills graced our view while the city itself lay bathed in fog. Our first child was born there, resulting in long hours of peaceful gazing while holding and nursing him. It cemented my love for this place.

Eventually, as so often happens in life, agonizing challenges captured my emotions. As I gazed out a bus window one cold February morning, struggling with life altering decisions, I was gifted with an inspiring and uplifting panorama of my spectacular sun-bathed snow glistening mountains.

To this day, my flagging spirits are revived seeing their breath-taking beauty. No matter how often I take in this view, my soul is in awe and filled with contentment.

I have no need to travel to find my place of beauty.

It is in this place I have chosen to call home, where mountains shimmering in sunlight capture the essence of my spirit and my soul is at rest.

Photo Credit: Instagram user thejimmichaels