Some Friendships that Last a Lifetime
By Mark Bradley
High in the Sierra Nevada’s overlooking Lake Tahoe you’ll find a magical place called Chickadee Point. Wild chickadees welcomed us with a song and ate from our hands as they chirped and fluttered about the snow covered Ponderosa pines. You won’t find it on any map and it’s only accessible during the winter by snowshoe or cross country ski. So how did I find it?
When my friend Donna Miller Nielsen (IVC ’73 Classmate) and I set out last month on snowshoes we were fulfilling a pledge we had made in Sept. 2003 at our 30 year high school reunion. Donna now lives in nearby Reno, NV and we have known each other almost 44 years going back to first grade in Rome. We had decided there was some life left in us yet so we invited classmates Roger Anderson, Greg Brown, and others to join us in the adventure. Sadly, it was only the two of us who set out through this winter wonderland to explore the beauty of the high Sierras.
As we approach our 50th birthdays later this year, we reminisced about growing up in Rome and Chillicothe. Tromping through the 6-10 foot snow-pack brought back memories of a big snowstorm during the ’60’s when we were in Rome and how she had to commandeer the family tractor to make it to school. But we also realized how lucky we were to be able to reestablish our friendship and to understand the significance of friends and family as we get older.
As we emerged from the forest after plodding up a ridge, the glory of God’s creation lay before us. The wide expanse of Lake Tahoe shimmered below surrounded by a majestic crown of snow capped mountains. I’m not sure what was more breathtaking- the scenery or the high altitude (8,500 feet) we had reached. Nevertheless, we knew we had stumbled upon a unique place that only a few will find and enjoy.
I have traveled the world in the last few years observing different countries and cultures. I have observed the Masai tribe in Africa; the Incas in Peru; and the Aborigines in Australia. Many of these people live in poverty and conditions beyond our imagination yet they are content and happy. Why?
Because they understand that all that really matters in the end is family, friends, and a sense of community welfare. This same realization struck me as Donna and I led an expedition of friends back to Chickadee Point for a wine and cheese party that weekend. We were among the few who get it.