Snowmobile, Apple, Darkness
“The sweetest song is silence…that I’ve ever heard..funny how your feet..in dreams never touch the earth” (“These Dreams” by Heart)
Kate flew through the woods. A cloud of powdered snow kicked up by her skis caught her in the face, leaving icy crystals on her goggles and in her hair. She was listening to her favorites on the mp3 player as she went along. Right now the band Heart was playing and after that Roger Daltrey would scream “Who are you?”
Kate Connor was cross-country skiing on her day off and the afternoon lay ahead of her. She had been at the trail head by 11am, stretching and warming up her lean 5’7” frame for the coming workout. She was careful to eat right and exercise regularly, trying to combat weak genes and youthful years of bad habits. At 47 she thought she was in pretty good shape for her age.
She had gotten to an area of the trail where the run was fairly easy. Flat, straight trails like this were where you made your speed, obviously uphill trails were harder and slowed you down. Currently she was running what she called five and dimes. Kate skied hard, really pushing herself for five minutes; then she slowed to a normal pace for ten minutes. Alternating periods of intense workout with restful periods kept her from sweating too much, which could be deadly out on the mountain. Sweat can quickly freeze on the body in the winter, leading to hypothermia.
She had stopped for lunch – an apple and two granola bars around 1pm and was now back on the trail. Another favorite came to her ear, “Killer Queen” and right after that “Bohemian Rhapsody,” because you couldn’t play Queen without having those two songs! Kate smiled. It was early afternoon, there were still several hours before sundown. She was meeting friends later for a bonfire. She didn’t expect to stay very long; these things usually involved drinking lots of beer then someone would inevitably trip over their snowmobile. Kate’s scene was more of the ‘glass of wine at the lodge’ kind of thing. Her new fella wanted to go – how weird it was to say that. Her fella. She was divorced at 42 and had a new romance at 47. She felt like a child every time she referred to him as her boyfriend, but that’s what he was. It was new yet, and like a good ski boot it would take some wearing in.
This was one of her favorite ways to spend a day off, out on the trails. She always let the ranger station know where she intended to ski and all of that, so she wasn’t too worried about having any trouble. Kate loved to see how the sunlight found its way through the bare branches and around the evergreens. In the afternoon it shone on the hardened sections of snow with intensity, while fingers of shadow snuck out from underneath trees to steal the mountainside away inch by inch. Out by herself like this, she could hear the woods as well as smell them in wonderful clarity. The evergreens had the fresh woody scent of pine and the snow smelled like the earth.
This was what winter should be; earthy, crisp and clean. Black-Capped Chickadees flitted around busily in the trees. This was the best of so many things for her, right here. Coming out on the mountain gave her a sense of awe, sadly missing in the concrete jungle at the base of the mountain. The air was always fresh and sweet. Although physically tiring, a day spent cross-country always soothed her spirit and chased away any darkness.
“The Other Side” by Aerosmith came on. Kate pushed through that song and then slowed and caught her breath. At about 4:30 when Stephen Stills was telling her to “Love the One You’re With; she reached the end of the trail, and her truck. It was early yet, the bonfire wouldn’t be lit until full darkness had descended on the mountain. As she removed her skis and unlatched her boots, Madonna led the way:
“I made it through the wilderness…Somehow I made it through…”