Oh, but the tedium of winter. Another month, and spring will come; another three months, and the worst of the rains will be over. Already the days are lengthening perceptibly, and daffodils are pushing their heads through the mud. But, for now, my most exciting news is that I have been fortunate in my choice of reading material. I have read A Test of Will by Warren MacDonald, Storms of Silence by Joe Simpson, The Hill by Ed Hommer, and two books about Sir Ernest Shackleton. These are all accounts of dangerous adventures to exotic places. Two of the authors Ed Hommer and Warren MacDonald lost their legs, but both went on to perform other dangerous feats, and one of them, Ed Hommer, was killed on Mt. Rainer in 2002, a year after his book was published. Few people who persist in such things see their fiftieth birthday.

God knows have no wish to undertake my adventures. How frivolous to risk one’s life climbing a mountain or exploring the Antarctic. After years of study, I have concluded that such people are simply not suited for much else. I have only met two such adventurers—or rather heard them speak. One was hundred pound Araceli Segarra a Spanish woman who climbed Everest in 1996, a year when so many were killed that the living had to thread their way among the dead. She showed clips of herself performing feats that would give most people nightmares. The other was Will Steger, an Arctic explorer who had the wildest eyes that I have ever seen in a—presumably—sane human being. His gaze only fell on me briefly, but I will carry the memory forever.

The following is Shackleton’s help wanted ad for one of his four Antarctic expeditions. Five thousand men and three women applied. What demons must eat at a person’s soul that he would seek escape at such a cost?

“Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small Wages, Bitter Cold, Long Months of Complete Darkness, Constant Danger, Safe Return Doubtful…”

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