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Think you are cold? Be glad you aren’t in Alaska

The other day, I found a moment to sit and put my feet up. I perused the end table and witnessed the lonely remote sitting as if waiting for someone to give it a moment of attention. I felt bad for the poor thing and convinced it to turn the TV on for me.

As I scrolled through endless shows, one caught my attention. It was titled, “Life Below Zero.” It airs on the National Geographic channel, more often referred to as NatGeo.

The title captivated me. When a person thinks about the literal meaning of life below zero, a bleak picture springs forth. Maybe I am having a difficult time adjusting to the sudden dip in the mercury, but I am not embracing the cold yet.

I hunkered down and decided to give this show that enticed me a few minutes of my time.

Like many reality shows, the viewer quickly forgets that the people, who appear to be in the midst of some horrible situation, have a camera crew all around them. Once I pushed the technical side of the story away, I noticed how desolate, beautiful and dangerous the environment was.

Vast forests blanketed in snow extended for many miles. Huge skies full of an assortment of clouds dwarfed the men and women who struggled to survive. These folks that were documented in this program endure an existence that is void of the corner grocery store. Food just outside of the arctic circle in Alaska is hunted, trapped or foraged for.

The camera followed along as one man set beaver traps. He trudged along in snowshoes heading toward a frozen pond he knew housed beavers. The warm breath from the animals revealed their home with a cylinder of snow that looked much like a chimney.

The man mentioned that the beaver pelts are important to him, but the real goal was enough meat to feed his family for a few days.

Every one of us descended from men and women that survived this exact same way. For us, in this modern and technology driven world, living like that appears to be so primitive. Yet after a few minutes, it was apparent this man was anything but. His knowledge of the land, the understanding of his quarry – and the ability to make it in such a landscape – is something to be respected.

I often wondered how people came to live in such places. Is that where they were born? Did they venture there seeking a refuge from the crazy, fast-paced world we live in? Why do they stay?

These questions would never be answered in one 30-minute reality TV show, but it was a great reminder that life for so many people is much different than what we experience here.

I would love to visit this part of Alaska sometime in the future. Granted, I would much prefer the endless hours of summer sunlight than the continual darkness of winter, but I suppose it would be interesting to say I’ve experienced such a thing.

For now, I will rely on my trusty remote to locate “Life Below Zero” from time to time on the TV. You can bet I will enjoy it, but I also will be thankful for the thermostat on the wall and the warm home around me.

The next time you battle the cold on the way into the grocery store, think about that hardy soul in Alaska searching for his meal in a frozen beaver pond.

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