Dear Mother Nature,
Why do you hate me?
I have tried to be a good steward of the Earth.
When I was a kid, I made “Do Not Litter” signs.
I led a crusade to clean up Ferry Point Park in the Bronx, spending two summer days stabbing and bagging trash by myself after getting a permit from the city’s Parks Department, which thought the “Campaign to Clean up Ferry Point Park” was an entire army of people instead of some Pollyanna 12-year-old kid.
I was a Boy Scout and learned the importance of environmentally friendly camping techniques and best campfire practices.
So why oh why do you hate me Mother Nature?
By my count, it is Mother Nature: 4, Chris: 0.
As a kid growing up in the Bronx, I thought the Bronx Botanical Gardens was the woods.
So when I moved to the Adirondacks and had a chance to see a moose — A MOOSE! — in the woods in its natural habitat, I was super excited.
Instead, not only did I miss out on seeing it once, but twice. And as I have chronicled, further moose expeditions in Maine and New Hampshire yielded similar lackluster results.
Other efforts to commune with nature were equally pitiful.
I went whale watching in Maine, saw no whales but I did get horribly sea sick.
And on the same trip to Maine we hiked through a wooded path littered with raised stones and tree roots so we could see what a brochure promised would be harbor seals.
Seals, shmeals. There was bupkus.
And now the latest indignity: A trip to Iceland primarily to see the Northern Lights, that flashing razzmatazz of a light show unique to that hemisphere during winter.
Iceland? In January?
But it will be so cool, I promised my wife. After all, we honeymooned here in the summer of 2010, toured the island, loved the country and said we would return to see the aurora borealis.
After a 45-minute bus ride, we arrived at the viewing area, a place so remote and isolated its name loosely translated in Icelandic means “like Ithaca, only colder.”
Like UFO believers, bus loads of us huddled, looking at the night sky. The ice and snow crackled and crunched beneath our feet as we shuffled to stay warm.
Our guide told us conditions had improved to see the Northern Lights, which Icelandic lore attributes to heroes fighting in the afterlife.
Among fishermen, the lights are seen as a harbinger of a good herring catch to come.
Me? If I had seen the lights I would have taken it as a sign that Mother Nature’s angry streak with me had finally come to an end.
Instead she threw shade — lots and lots of it.
And in the stillness of the night, I could hear the mocking laughter of harbor seals, moose and whales.