Down the Slope
I scrape along the edge of a magical lullaby.
The lamposts that illuminate the approaching bend drip in icy chainmail. It’s so lovely the way the captured snow twinkles beneath the soft light. I admire it for as long as I can before I must lean into the edges of my skis and move in sync with the slope’s shifting landscape. With some time to spare after ski school before my dad collects me, I relish the fresh chill of independence.
I have tasted freedom, the biggest portion of it a nine-year-old in rural New Hampshire could hope to feast on. Alone on this winding trail with just enough time for another run before Crotched Mountain shuts down, I pretend my rental skis are an extension of me. If I bend into them, turn a little less and speed up a little more, maybe time will slow so I can set flight without losing sight of the crooked pine trees and the slow-moving metal chairs strung between them.
The cold night has coxed me out of hibernation; I find the lullaby in the swishing crescendo of skis to snow to ice. What a gift it is to create music on my way to today’s finish line.
Through the tunnel
Curved branches knotted tightly above with leaves covering the gaps in between, Granny and her dog lead me through my favorite shortcut. This little path, deliciously dim and mysterious beneath the canopy of trees, connects her tiny village lane to the one that runs parallel on the other side of her neighbor’s cottage. I walk slowly, purposefully, to the beat of gravel crunching beneath my eager little soles.
It’s not much of a shortcut in the end. That’s why I love it so.
Up the Profile
I think I’ve already managed to tear my running leggings as I free myself from the spiky branch that broke my fall. Halfway up the Marlow Profile the day after Christmas, and my running shoes are doing little to keep me upright on this spontaneous, post-run hike. When I jogged by just 20 minutes ago, the freshly powdered rock face looked irresistible.
But the promise of a photo-worthy view is further ahead, where backlogged ice and snow have crafted a luge track on the trail leading to the peak. Today, reaching the mini-summit is not the goal, nor is staying warm and dry and upright. Both are near-impossible feats and secondary to what I see now — a soft light on temporary loan from the sun shining on the branches coated in icy chainmail. They are protected from the elements but exposed to the person who chooses to see the perfect, shifting landscape between points A and B.