It is Winter Carnival time in Saranac Lake. The carnival was started in the late 1800s, in keeping with the tiny village’s commitment to supporting those who traveled there to “take the cure,” at the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium, it provided an opportunity to celebrate winter. A group of men committed to encouraging what we would now call “wellness” hatched a plan to build an Ice Palace or Fortress as part of the Carnival in 1898. Professional ice harvesters were involved in early Palaces but by the 1960s volunteers stepped forward to create the frozen centerpieces of the Carnival. Volunteers think about the ice and the Palace year-round. The Palace sneaks into my consciousness in mid-January. Will there be enough ice? Will there be a thaw? How do these people do this work?
I stopped by the site of the Palace this week. The sun glistened off the icy blocks as crews moved them into place, building walls and blocks that will be carved into dinosaurs (this year’s theme is Prehistoric Park). I watched all of this from the comfort of my car, my appetite for -10 temperatures being limited. Ice scare me. Falls on icy sidewalks are a big part of my winter experience. I can appreciate the restorative influence of this bright sun and the cold crisp air and can image the restorative benefits of the Palace for patients at the Sanitarium years ago. When I acknowledge all the things that protect me from the cold that were not available to the patients or the workers who constructed the early Palaces, I realize that it might be time to reconsider my fear of ice.
Now the people who lived in the remote village of Saranac Lake in 1898, they had good reason to be afraid of ice. But instead they found a way to embrace winter as a particularly beautiful season to be shared with neighbors and visitors. They chose to celebrate.
It will be relatively easy to embrace my fear of ice and join in the Winter Carnival celebration. But what about my other fears? What about your fears? Can you find a way to celebrate and embrace your fears in a way that removes their power? That’s where you will find hope. Let’s go there.