Canmore Nordic Centre – Missing Nature

We walked through the Canmore Nordic Centre. Few eyes met us.

Deb and I felt our bulky cotton sweaters, non-coordinated fleeces, and aging hiking boots weigh heavy. Felt…not so much like cross-country-alpine-paupers, more like the vastly-uninformed, or more like aliens.

Yet all around us the brightly woven hats, the raspberry tinted goggles–shielding the eyes we couldn’t catch–the spandex and smart-wool, the flashing titanium poles, the slip-sleek skis slung over shoulders, attested to a kind of surreal alienism of its own. The earth as giant gymnasium. But that’s me…the way I like to frame it.

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Still, it is possible to be in nature and not notice. Not want to notice. Because the created earth can crack open a soul. The moving water and shifting light expose our mortality. The rock reminds us of our peculiar permanence. Everything in nature points here and away.

Me, I live in glass and steel and cement, too far from the earth. I walk with my wife in the river valley to reconnect. And on occasion, we come to the valleys and mountains for a terra firma transfusion.

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We left the Nordic Centre and headed for the hills.

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We met the late Lawrence Grassi. Looking at his hands holding the wood rail, it comes to me that there is divinity in this dirt. I imagine that if he got any closer to the earth he would turn to loam.

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He gave himself to it. He scratched out the trails we walked on. Lowered logs over rivulets. And I imagine sat by his ponds for hours. Listening to the water drop away, listening to the rock wall crack on a hot day. Dust to dust. Trust to trust.

Squirrel Midden
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