Listening to the whisper of life
Powder.Ahhh, yes – it falls on my helmet with a pitter patter, like sanity, like dreams, like hope; falling from the misty muck that wraps around my soul like a blanket and freezes to my jacket.One second I’m ripping through snow-cloaked trees on my black board. The next, I sit placidly in the fat stillness on my cold butt, waiting. Today I wait for Liz. Tomorrow it’ll be John. Other times it’s my mom, or any friend, but I don’t mind. These smiling memories, I know, will come again with the others … the next time it snows.I remember riding the T-bar with my dad at Ski Estes, when I was 5. Everything was a whisper then – my skis sliding softly, swiftly up the hill, the winter woods, all around, calling me to explore their untracked secrets. Even the hiss of the car heater at the end of the day seemed to speak in the same voice. All of it made me feel like steam from a cup of hot chocolate.Winter camping up Four Mile Road in high school, I would wander away from the fire to take a piss, and the whisper would still be there. Silence swallowed everything – the laughter, the car stereo, the crackling embers – and made it one, like a flame devouring the breeze. The stars shimmered and hot, orange tongues danced on seething wood. And I stared in wonder, caught in the middle, listening.I’m still straining to make out the words of the voice. I seek them now, like homing in on the muffled sounds of a grand party that’s happening somewhere down a long, dark hall in an empty dormitory.Sometimes, when I get home from work on a snowy night, I’ll suit up and break trail along buried streets at 2 a.m. On the river bank, I can almost hear each flake settling into place in the vast, white pile all around me. Streetlights cast pink hues on the Roaring Fork, which swirls and bubbles over icy cobbles to meet the Colorado. The town slumbers and the water falls, falls, falls, little bits at a time but never stopping, cutting the moment like the fading metallic rumble of the train.Now, I find myself sitting, waiting for Liz, and the pines sway all around me. Frozen crystals spackle my face, melting into the skin like cold freckles. Everything becomes clear in this silent sanity.My breath quivers. I can hear the whisper, so loudly in all my senses yet I can’t put it into words. I have to get up, I have to move, I have to dance – all the way down the white, fluffy hill.So I tighten my binding. The click of the ratchet reminds me of Dave, the last time I saw him alive – we were getting ready to drop a cliff on Berthoud Pass – and I feel him here.We’re off. Blasting. Ripping. Shredding.Life! The voice is life! And it’s me, my life! I throw my arms into the air – I want to hold onto this heartbeat. All I can do is carve another powder turn and huck myself off a roller at top speed.Let go! Sail! Live! Every cell in my body screams.It’s hard to leave at the end of the day. I crave so many more turns and even now the snow is melting. I hug Liz, for no reason. She’s surprised and a little weirded out.”Why?” she asks.I wish I could explain. I just had to grasp onto something, to seize something from this moment that is already gone. The joy, the love of life, is too much to keep bottled up. I think it’s best to let go; sprinkle goodness and affection over the land like the powder flakes that make this dream so vivid. Hug the world while you can.If you see Derek Franz with his arms wrapped around a tree, contact him at 384-9113 or email@example.com. Or call ski patrol.
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