Today I pulled Barry Lopez’ Arctic Dreams from the shelf, because in September I will travel to the Arctic with my sister and a brother and sister-in-law, and I was told this was a must-read. And why the Arctic when the south of France still beckons? I ask myself that question. Because we like cold, bleak places and enormous skies? Because we want to lament the melting of the arctic ice cap? Because we want to chew on walrus blubber and experience scurvy first hand? All of the above. It was my copy of Arctic Dreams from the eighties, and if the dog-ears are any indication, I never finished it. When I opened it this morning, several papers drifted out: a ski trail map from Alta; a flyer from the Alta Powder Kids ski school ($14 a day for ages 6 and up); and a daily report from Powder Kids describing the progress made by a certain Tristram H in 1987. He was six and small for his age back then. His teacher described him as: “A good enthusiastic little boy”. He was ”having difficulty turning on black.” But he had “finished with edgy-wedgy”. I can’t remember the last time I – or anyone in my hearing – referred to an edgy-wedgy, but it is something to hope for is some mythical future.
Talk about Proustian madeleines. Just handling that wrinkly ski map & peering into the shaded expanse of the Black Diamond Greeley Bowl, where I valiantly tried to keep up with my then-husband and his brothers, is enough to bring on vertigo and frostbitten toes. But to remember young Tristram as he fell in love with powder skiing, as he hurled himself fearlessly from the top of the mountain and raced down heedless of the dimly-heard maternal shouts to Be Careful and Slow Down, as he dipped behind a child-swallowing mogul and never emerged, as he imitated Eddie the Eagle, the English ski jumper who solidly came in last in every competition, as he dangled his legs off the edge of the chair lift and in the process so terrified his mother that I begged strangers to ride up with him, brings on only happiness.
I could make a case here for ‘real’ books (as opposed to Kindles, Nooks, Snooks or Swindles) because they afford this possibility for unleashing memories. But I will refrain, because it is so obvious.
In other news, the chickens are now outside in their yard, pecking the ground, dashing around, clucking, and in one significant case, crowing. This morning I heard my first real cock-a-doodle do, and I was strangely moved. My own rooster! Yes, it is he-who-shall-remain-unnamed, with the bluish black feathers and the many pointed comb and incipient wattle.
I think he is either a Black Orpington or a Black Austrolorp, but I am still not sure. I am however, very sure that he is a he.