In the storm

Photo credit: Wayne Lynch
Photo credit: Wayne Lynch

Fourteen years ago I was on a canoe trip in the Canadian backcountry with my grandmother, my parents, my husband, and our infant son.

*Note: This is not as weird as it seems. My grandmother was Ontario’s first licensed female canoe guide. My father practically grew up in a canoe, and so did I. All of us trekking out into the wilderness is just what we do.


We’d set up camp and pitched a tarp when a huge storm rolled in. I put our son in his bright yellow rain suit onesie (yes, they make these), and the rest of us pulled on our rain gear. As the storm intensified, we gathered under the tarp. The campsite began to flood and we huddled together with my son in the middle of our circle. Rain sluiced down our backs and puddled around the high patch of ground we were gathered upon.

My grandmother joked about us being like a herd of musk ox, who gather their young into the middle of the herd for protection, and indeed we were just like musk ox weathering a storm or the threat of predators.

This is us now. In the storm. The biggest, worst storm I have seen in my years on this planet. I won’t lie—I’m scared. I have never felt this vulnerable or this disappointed in humanity. My belief that most people are fundamentally good is shaken, deeply. But I keep thinking about that storm and about my herd.

Moving forward, we must be musk ox—big, powerful, badass, and working in unison. We must gather together with the most vulnerable in the center. Our future is the young people of today—the queer kids, the Jewish kids, the kids of color, the kids new to this country, the girls who don’t want to be groped, the boys who want to be kind. We have to keep them safe and also teach them how to deal with this kind of fundamental threat to our humanity.

So shake the snow off your shoulders, people, and circle up.




6 thoughts on “In the storm

  1. Thank you for this, Amber. I’m trying to shift from frozen despair to one step, one step, one step, forward. Yesterday I subscribed to the NY Times to put my money where my mouth is in terms of my belief in a free press. I will subscribe to other valued news sources in the coming days and weeks. Today I’ve called lawmakers to add my voice to those concerned about the appointment of Bannon, and I’ve reached out to specific friends and family members to ask them to join me in taking action. Tomorrow I will take another step. And another. Keep reminding me to stay active and alert.

    1. It is really motivating to see what others are doing. We have a window of outrage in which to create action. I’m going to a group in my town that is organizing for activism. I called my representative. I am finding ways to turn heartache into something else. xoxo

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