Every winter around this time, my husband packs his bags and walks out the door. Every winter he leaves me for another woman. Her name is Mother Nature and if I ever see her I’ll punch her in the face.
Every winter Joe heads up north to the Arctic to start another expedition season. We won’t see each other for 3 to 5 months solid. People often ask him what I think about all this, to which he replies that I am supportive, which is true, but I’ve always wanted to elaborate on that, so here goes…
Joe is so whole-heartedly passionate about our malamutes and the expeditions they do together, and there’s no doubt his enthusiasm is contagious. It is easy for me to share his excitement for it all. I think what Joe does is amazing on so many levels. I have tremendous respect and admiration for his strength and courage. It’s not everyone who can abandon all the comforts of home for months on end, or run a marathon on snowshoes every single day, or live without human interaction for so long without getting painfully lonesome. Joe’s expeditions are serious business and they are physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. They require a LOT of hard work on his part. But he pours his heart and soul into it because he loves it. It is his life’s work.
For me, the toughest part is always the day he leaves. We’ll spend the better part of the day loading the truck and trailer with dogs and gear and then when he’s ready to go, we bow our heads together and say a prayer…and this is when I start to lose it. I get choked up and…uh oh…here come the water works. When he hits the road, I pull myself together and march on like the little soldier that I am.
The thing that makes me most nervous is actually the drive up the Haul Road. Having made the drive up several times myself in the dead of winter to drop off Joe and the team, I know just how crazy it can be. It’s white-knuckle driving for sure. Anyway, once I know he’s made it to his destination safely (thank goodness for the satellite phone) I feel infinitely better. I know there are dangers each day when he’s traveling in the remote wilderness with the dog team, but I refuse to live shackled to fear. I put my faith in God for their protection and I have great confidence in Joe’s abilities and experience.
So, how can we stand to be apart for so long? It’s really not that bad. We are the very best of friends and we have a fantastic relationship, but we’re also both very independent people and I guess it just doesn’t bother us too much. Actually, we’ve found that there’s a lot of truth to the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I know..how cliché, right? But when he’s gone for a while it elevates my awareness and appreciation of all the things he does for me, like starting my car for me on all the cold, dark winter mornings and brushing off the snow, doing the dishes (my most dreaded household chore) and taking out the trash, among a myriad of other things. Heck, when he’s gone I even start to miss the little things he does that irritate me, like leaving a trail of coffee grounds on the kitchen counter.
Now that we have the Little Explorer, I’m sure the expedition season will be more of a challenge for us than ever before. It will be quite an adjustment for her and I have a feeling she’ll be cranky when she doesn’t get to see her Dada every day and squeal with glee as she tugs on his beard.
But, when springtime rolls around again and Joe and the dogs return home, it’s the best feeling in the world. By then I’ll be good and ready to start nagging him about his coffee ground mess again and he’ll be good and ready to hear it.