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.
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.
We left the Nordic Centre and headed for the hills.
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.
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.