Batter, Ritter and the Minarets stand guard over the snow-covered landscape of the Eastern Sierra. The aren’t the tallest peaks or even the most imposing, but those sorts of distinctions matter little to me. In the winter they are hardly ever long from my sight as I snowboard the runs at Mammoth. In the summer they are a familiar landmark I can use to pinpoint my location while wandering the trails of the backcountry. Either way, summer or winter, when I see these famous towering rocks I know I am home.
I long for the quiet of the wild places, that dangerous whisper that lures your soul forward with the enchanting music of nature while hiding the teeth and nails of the beasts lurking in the shadows. It’s edgy. It’s addictive. It’s the lullaby of my youth and the anthem of my future.
I long for the cool waters of the mountain streams, that swirl around my tired legs offering painful chills and soothing comfort in equal measures. It’s calming. It’s sharp. It’s the moment that grounds me in the reality of the beautiful world blooming on the paths I walk.
I long for the star dazzled sky, that hints at all the possibilities that could ever be, worlds within worlds, and firmly reminds me of how terribly small I am. It’s captivating. It’s terrifying. It’s the truth that no matter how much we matter in the lives we lead on this Earth, we are nothing and never will be in the universal scope of things.
I long for the untouched lands, that view of the world as it was before man walked upon it, unmarred by our advances, our triumphs, our failures. It’s beautiful. It’s home. It’s how I recharge and face the truths of my life, my commuter lifestyle, my hypocrisy, my seasons away from the quiet, the rivers, the stars, and the untouched lands.
This will be my last post for a bit. I’m heading out on a backpacking trip that will necessitate that I unplug for a couple days. I’m very much looking forward to both the trip and unplugging.
The windows are open wide allowing a teasing scent of rain, the hint of respite that will never arrive, but there is no breeze to cool the aching flesh. The walls pulsate under the pressure. Skin sticks to sheets. The oppressive heat weights the air, clogging lungs, until breaths come in gulping gasps. Tossing and turning, the sheets in shambles, the minutes of the night pass one drip of sweat at a time.
Lights splash against the ceiling as the tires’ squeal is drowned under the doppling siren. One more selfish rant against the world for hording the elusive sleep and deserved relief. Toss. Turn. Toss. Turn. Sweat. Repeat. A choked moan escapes cracked lips and is swallowed by eternity.
The night moans and the sirens wail…
The call squawks over the radio, selfish moans are given voice, and the light bar goes to work. Tires slip and squeal on the wet pavement, the heat pulling the moisture from the ground, until purchase is found and the bus hurtles into the night. The deserted street welcomes the company and bids good luck. Time, as always, is of the essence when a life needs saving.
Sweat pools at the bases of necks and drips down backs, hot on hot, offering no relief. The air blasting from the vents is nothing but a harsh reminder of the constant throbbing warmth in all places the conditioned air doesn’t reach. Dry lips are licked and forgotten in the war between hold and cold buffets of air. The siren loops and the echoes bounce and tremble off the tiny houses of the residential street.
The night moans and the sirens wail…
The day had been so intensely hot, who could have expected the ground to be wet. A timid step placed incorrectly was all it took to slip and tumble down. The concrete was not kind in its greeting. A moan of pain and grief rent the darkness. Shapes hovered vaguely and then were swallowed by the night as slaps of footfalls sped away. It was amazing how hot it was. Still. The disappearance of the sun hadn’t brought any relief.
But, there, something different, a small area of cool spreading out from the spine, warding off the blistering of the pavement. The forehead sweat running down both cheeks was forgotten as a bright spot of selfish enjoyment crept in for the first time in days. The spot grew and the feeling, the touch of chill, was accented by the approaching sirens. It was a magical sound that reverberated up from the ground and engulfed the rent flesh.