During these winter months, I often think about Aesop’s fable of the fox and the grapes. In the fable, a fox sees a cluster of juicy-looking grapes but, after attempting to jump to them, cannot reach them. Dejected, the fox walks away and declares that the grapes are probably sour anyway.

As Idaho’s wintery blues come blowing in with the frosty wind, it is easy to say that the grapes are sour — that because it is cold and we are momentarily unable to obtain something right now, it must not be worth it.

That is not the case. Though momentarily out of reach, it is the process of getting there and the people who help you along the way that will form you. Do not listen to the wind howling at you to wait for fairer weather when now is the time to shape your future.

Running along the rim of the Menan Butte

Running along the rim of the Menan Butte. Photo credit: Gabe Mills

Seize the moment and do the things you love with warmth in your heart, and you might even learn to love the cold. And if you don’t, you will learn what it is that you do love.

Winter produces conditions capable of stripping away our comfortable distractions and leaving a clear pedestal of priorities. On that pedestal, which things in your life will you place higher than simple comfort from the cold?

As the winter settles, I find myself making more of an effort to get outside on my bicycle and in this way, the importance of a good bike ride takes its place on my metaphorical pedestal of priorities. And then proper sleep and nutrition stand up next to it as I work to stay healthy with the chilly, overcast days and longer nights.

But the priorities that reveal themselves do not always involve some battle between my will and the cold. The wintry winds also push me to find more warmth in the company of loved ones. And there is an added joy to curling up with a good book or movie (or even studying) in a place tucked away from the elements.

Teewinot Mountain from Taggart Lake

Teewinot Mountain from Taggart Lake Photo credit: Gabe Mills

These priorities will be different for everyone as this is a time of personal revelation and self-reflection; we will all find success and will falter in both. I will add that I am in no way criticizing those who have found their passions indoors, away from the cold. But please, be careful. If there is something important to you, don’t let temporary discomfort convince you that the grapes are sour — primarily when reaching those grapes represents the experiences that will build your future.

If joy is found in the journey, then winter makes the journey, and consequently the joy, a little longer. It takes a bit more effort to do things, but that effort lingers as a cozy reminder of what you’re willing to do for the people and things you love and makes it all the more meaningful.