Talking Ukrainian Politics in Snowshoes

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Slide MountainCatskill naturalist and essayist John Burroughs said it best: I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. Yesterday, I tried to do just that during a winter climb up Slide Mountain.

The highest mountain in the Catskills gets its share of hikers from around the world. Like the streets of Manhattan, you’ll witness ethnic diversity and hear dozens of different languages on the trail and at the summit. The first time I climbed I shared green tea with a sweet Chinese woman and a charismatic conversation with a journalist from Japan. Yesterday, gazing out over a limitless horizon thousands of miles from the crisis, I met a man from Ukraine and asked him his opinion of the tensions.

Born in the industrial east, the emotional Russian-speaking Ukrainian was quick to defend Putin and support the pro-Moscow forces.

I’m paraphrasing here but he said that the situation was complicated but if Russia was willing to provide billions more in loans, more than the EU, and cheaper gas – well, it was about economics…and besides, the U.S. government is escalating the crisis and so was the media.

My patriotic nerves bristled hearing the media and U.S. government clumped into the blame game. By all means, tell me all about your history, culture and economics, especially given a complicated issue like this, but why cast aspersions? His diatribe was, with much relief, interrupted by others hiking through.

Another favorite quote from Burroughs: A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.

Slide Mountain Winter Hike

Slide Mountain Winter Hike