Spring has sprung in the Kootenays. The drive up to the mountain is muddy and wet and snow melt streams down the ditches and splashes up your tires. The massive icicles that reached down like fangs from rock overhangs on the road to Whitewater have turned into small, baby teeth disappearing in the sun’s heat. The great white north has lost much of its winter blanket, with bright green leaves exploding from branches, and snow plopping in slushy piles from the evergreens all over the mountains.

Hikes no longer stoke the fire for powder turns, but instead have us stripping layers off and smiling into the sun as we swish through endless runs of spring corn. And as I ski down the final stretch of snow turning to slush, I remember the green meadow full of wildflowers that lies beneath me. I remember frolicking with my dog Woody on this slope, now with only remnants of last year’s winter still clinging to shaded valleys. And I remember racing, stoked out of my mind, up the road to Whitewater as the first snow fell back in October.

It’s been quite a journey in the Kootenays, but what sticks with me as I point my car home to my urban jungle of Portland, is the wildness that flickered and burst into flame throughout the winter in these mountains. It was impossible not to embrace that feeling of wildness, that feeling of youthful curiosity and freedom. As I drove home, I kept coming back to a quote from my friend Mark:

Wild love is it, with a little lusty decadent raw edge. What else is there that matters besides wild love! …well until wild unpredictable love moves from the dopamine rush of novelty and the expanding edge of the unknown to egocentric control for predictability. So wild love always needs curiosity, the abundant fuel for the wild fire so it does not become a controlled flame. Yes, throw in some curiosity without the tendency to own and control and the wild fire burns. It never killed the cat.

Here’s to wild love in the mountains and anywhere we find ourselves—and to continuing to stoke our wild fires with curiosity through every season.

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