Thursday, January 27

Last Summer

Last Summer
Sitting together
on the banks of the Truckee
My best friend Shelly,
ageless wisdom beaming
from her fifteen year-old eyes, 
“You really can, you know,
tell by the sound of it,
that is,
whether a stream is 
happy or sad.”
Sitting in silence together,
on that warm summer day,
the sunset
over Donner Lake. 
Thirty-seven years ago.
Shelly’s words, spoken in one of those timeless, powerfully subtle, almost deniably so, life altering moments, awakened me. I answered the ringing phone, and listened. A compelling conversation between me and the natural world. The writer, photographer; as witness, was born that day. 
The deeper the passion 
the more resounding the 
when hidden chasms 
finally open. 
That ominous, 
hideous, marvelous rumbling crescendo 
as the high mountain dam

Words and ideas 
as free as the once trapped waters,
gushing, swirling, 
violently crash onto the paper.
Our parents, district attorney, stockbroker, gynecologist, aerospace engineer(s),  geologist, veterinarian and corporate executives all generously shared their frugality with us. Weekends hiking in the Sierras, fueled our dreams. While aluminum cans and old newspapers got recycled into precious gold. We funded our own adventures.
Above the tree line
Raw stone, earth, rock and pebble
reclaims its dominion over
green, sprouting and living things
yearning to send their roots 
Contrasting tones of
earth and sky
separateness now
In the thin air, giddy at reaching our base camp, we imagine ourselves as Queens and Kings of the hill. Delirious in our belief that we have conquered the high ground, we dance at our own, fleeting coronation. The mountain knows better. It laughs at us. Mere court jesters, pitching our tents, in the blackness. Stars smile at our naiveté, before the moon-rise. 
Huddled tightly around three white gas stoves. Their deafening static-like hiss, serve us one final time, by intensifying the quiet, that folded in around us, once the stoves were finally silent. It seemed like hours passed before anyone spoke. For nine summers, and nearly every weekend in between, my friends and I hiked the Sierras, the Grand Tetons, and the Rocky Mountains. In both summer and winter months, canoed and rafted the American, Truckee and Snake rivers. When not planning or preparing for our next adventure, we rode our bicycles, like mad fiends, everywhere. Here at some 8000 feet, above the tree line, at the base of Mt. Victoria, we had reached the beginning of the end.  
North of the Wikwaxys
East of Yoho
a dozen old friends
dream our last 
summit together.
4000 foot vertical climb
Baseball sized shale,
soccer balls of granite
in a deep salad bowl gorge 
of loose gravel. 
Laughing, holding hands and running down that last mile
passing Cedar and Hemlock. Hundreds of startled elk,
bolt away from us.
Wild, rapturous 

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